Monday, October 05, 2009

The Way the Lord Moves: Interrupted

My Sunday school class has just started a new unit. It's by Jen Hatmaker, titled Interrupted. The study basically sets out to challenge the way we live our lives. While our American Dream seeks comfort and success, it also tends to put blinders on us and prevent us from seeing those that are poor and outcast. Hatmaker examines Scripture and chronicles her personal journey in transforming her mindset, aiming to be merciful and just, as opposed to selfish and cruel.

The first of five sessions was called "Poor." Filled with heartbreaking statistics and obvious Scripture, I was left cracked and broken. How selfish are we? In John 21:15-19 Christ asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter responds each time that he does, and his heart is grieved that Jesus asks three times. With each answer from Peter Jesus tells him to "feed My sheep."

Most of my life I have taken this as a metaphor, Jesus telling Peter to feed the spiritual needs of his people. Christ would be leaving and the world would need pastors to help keep the Message alive. Frankly, the idea that Christ was speaking literally and metaphorically never struck me. Meet the spiritual need, and the physical would be taken care of. Now, I think I was wrong.

It makes much more sense to feed someone physically first. The hungry don't care about the void in the soul; they care about the absence in their stomachs. Showing love and care to them will build trust and friendship, and exhibit the love Christ had for others. Christ first met physical needs, then spiritual needs. Look at the feeding of the 5000 or the countless other miracles. He didn't say "You have to first listen to my sermon and then I'll help some of you." No, Christ was driven by his love for his hurting brothers and sisters.

James 2:15,16 says "If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?" While I try to help out those in need, through giving of food or clothes or money or whatever is desired, I don't often take a proactive stance on this. Instead, passively, if I see someone and I have cash, then I'll help; otherwise, I go about my business. What good are our words without action?

Then, yesterday in class, it turns out that our entire class was all similarly broken by reading the first session of Interrupted. We wanted to know what we could do to help our community? How can we get involved and plugged in, helping those that are less fortunate than we are? Was there a soup kitchen we could volunteer? But, the way the Lord moves is different than we expect.

Exciting things are on the horizon, and I feel that if we go forward with the plans laid out during the class that we'll be able to spread the Love of Christ physically and spiritually to those in need. There is a chance that we'll be doing a "church service" in a local homeless shelter twice a month, possibly starting as early as this upcoming Sunday. We'll use our talents and abilities the Lord gave us, with love, and share ourselves with those at the shelter.

Now I ask you, what do you do for others that are hurting, that are in need? You don't have to serve Jesus to help others. I know the change for me will not be instantaneous, but I pray and hope that it will come, that I'll serve others instead of myself. (If you're interested in the Interrupted series, visit your local Lifeway, or click here.)

5 comments:

Okie said...

That is an interesting thought...that the "feed my sheep" be taken literally. I'd always focused on the idea of spiritually feeding the sheep. There are definitely a lot of teachings about feeding and clothing the poor, so this could definitely be an instance of having multiple meanings. Sounds like a cool lesson.

Keisha said...

I really think we could make an entire study out of that one section...

logankstewart said...

Okie: I'm looking forward to the remainder of the study. I'm sure I'll be documenting my progress.

Keisha: Yes, me too.

David Wagner said...

If you'll pardon the inadvertent pun, definitely food for thought. I've been pondering myself lately the over-abundance of passages in both the OT and the NT that seem to show that God is quite intensely interested in what we do each day, as opposed to merely what we say we believe. In fact, I'm pretty convinced that what we truly believe is directly reflected in what we do each day...

Anyway, good post. Thanks for taking the time...

logankstewart said...

David: I love puns! Yes, a definite overabundance of things seem to point to what we actually do. I think it's all nicely summed up in James, that faith without works is dead. I don't think these works are simple one-time things, but that they're a lifestyle of works.