Sunday, July 10, 2011

Community & Church

I previously posted one of my favorite quotations by Mahatma Gandhi regarding faith, community and politics:
"A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion."
And so I ask:
What is the church doing for those in need inside their own walls?
What is the church doing in and for the local community? 
What is the church doing for the world community?
We can and often do reach out to fill the spiritual needs of people, but what about the physical needs of food, clothing, housing?  Or merely spending time with persons who have begun attending our church or who have moved into our community or neighborhood?

Next, I need to take it to a more personal level and ask myself the above questions:
What am I doing for those in need at the church?
What am I doing for my local community?
What am I doing for the world community?
Oh, I may piously sit back and say, "well, I support ministry XYZ with a monthly financial contribution..." but is that enough?  Is that enough to quell the Spirit in my soul that begs for more?  And not necessarily money, but that of time and actually of getting my hands dirty?

In Luke 6, right after the Beatitudes, we are commanded to 'love our enemies'.  It is hard enough to love those who are like-minded, but our enemies?  Really?

Beginning in Luke 6 verse 27:
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Now wait a minute? Does this mean the woman who seeks an abortion?  Does this mean the homosexual?  Does this mean the Muslim?  Yes, it does.  Does this mean we turn our back to sin?  Of course not.  What it means is that we respond as Christ did. In and with love.  Even though the end of this reference speaks of reward, that is not the motivation to perform such acts. We do these acts, these charities because all persons are created in the image of God - not just the Christian.  Being a Christian, proclaiming to be a Christian is not an elitist club or membership.

Today's post is meant for me.  For me to be able to sort through all the religious acts of piety and become a 'verb' - an action word.  It is one thing to know this and quite another to live it.

There are certain things I know quite well about myself.  I have a creative streak, a gift, if you will.  I can conceive some wonderful ideas and plans, but in carrying them out?  Not so good.  Am I able to convey this vision to others and perhaps they can carry them out?  That remains to be seen.

So this I pray:
Abba, Father... help me to see all mankind as created in Your image.  ~Amen!
because we're His,

Tamara

ps... in accordance with verse 30... to the Christian woman who borrowed my book Zipporah and then sold it in her yard sale.  Consider it yours.  I release you and my feeling of shock, awe, hurt and disappointment!  Note to self:  Don't go to yard sales of persons you know or have lent something to. Then don't be angry with yourself for not saying something.  In the scope of eternity, is it worth it?