Going out and actively seeking people to help does not come naturally to a lot of people. I certainly think everyone has the capacity to be benevolent to those that ask for help, but to do the hard yards and actively find people in need, takes a lot of effort and perseverance. I believe whole heartedly that much prayer and introspection is needed when endeavouring to find those that need help. We need the eyes, mind, and heart of God to really understand why it is so important to be a humble servant to those at the bottom of our societies, and not because we feel sorry for them, but because it is God’s justice we implement.
I had the privilege to join the ranks of the youth at Papanui church this past week, to help feed the homeless and vulnerable of our city. We handed out sandwiches at the Cardboard Cathedral. I was full of joy to see the effort from our church members in the pre sandwich wrap session, early on Sunday morning, and then the warm faces of our youth handing them out at lunchtime. Though helping the needy is a gallant thing to, we do not do it to get the warm and fuzzies, though that might be a bi-product. We help the needy because as the late Peter Gomes said, in regarding to the character of God, ‘God is the God of the oppressed, and we are with God when we too stand by their side’. I whole heartedly agree with this statement, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures we see a God that stands with the marginalised, he sends prophet after prophet telling those in power to stop oppressing the weak. Are we still doing that today? Even without realising it?
Jesus came as a prophet to the poor, the marginalised, and those who were excluded from their community offering them a new vision, the Kingdom of God, which was good news to the poor, but problematic to those who were at the top. We must follow in his footsteps by being that good news that seeks out the weak and vulnerable and pulls them up by whatever means are possible. We must not be satisfied with telling them about Jesus, most homeless people I have met already believe in Jesus, and have an unshakeable faith. This is not unusual to me because Following Jesus at the bottom is easy, it is I who finds myself in a comfortable position in life who finds it much more challenging, and I have to be self aware of that.
Comfort and an easy going life is not what Jesus promised us, he did promise us that there will be hardships and persecution (as a not no one should actively search out persecution) He also told the parable of the land owner who built more barns to store his excess grain that would keep him tied over for many years, he could now eat, drink and be merry. Yet God said to him ‘you fool, tonight your life will be demanded of you’ these are some of the toughest teachings because to be honest, I do not like what is being said because of my position in society. There is so much to say on this matter but unfortunately time and space do not afford me the pleasure.
It is my hope that the church does not stop here, that the church goes further up and further in, creating Heaven on earth (to coin a phrase) right here right now, just as Jesus did when he walked this Earth, and not re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic so to speak. May you who are reading this find great strength in knowing that the God we follow loves us all with an everlasting love, and with this love comes great responsibility for people who are all image bearers of God.
May you be abundantly covered in Gods peace
– Chris Chick, Papanui, Christchurch