Today I did something out of the norm for me and it cost me something. What is interesting is that it did not cost me what I thought it would cost me before I did it. The cost was totally different. There are many things in life like that. We never consider the cost of simple things in life. I never considered this past year that signing up to play soccer again would cost me a broken arm. I never thought that being a parent would cost me the last of the ice cream. We rarely think about the true cost of things.
So let me get back to today. Today I did something because of the convictions in my personal life that are the result of the preaching I have been doing recently. I have been preaching a sermon series titled STUFF. The series is about money and possessions and what God has to say about them. The truths taught are probably quite different than what you normally hear about money. It is not simply about giving money to the church nor is it about if you give you will get rich. The series really challenges our assumptions about stuff and why we have it, why we get it, and how we get it.
So as a result of that I have really been thinking about how I give. I give money to the church like I am supposed to, but besides that I am honestly not a very generous person. I rarely think about giving to someone else because either I think I don’t have enough to give or because I have already spent everything that I could have given getting stuff for myself and my family. So God has been challenging me with these thoughts about stuff and how selfish I really am.
I had lunch with a friend and church member today and discussed some good old church stuff. We had a good talk about how to be more effective at being the church. Then I left my restaurant and headed to the road and there sitting by the sign was a homeless man with his own sign. He was of course hungry, homeless, and would appreciate anything.
So what did I do? Well I drove right by of course. I went on my merry little way heading back to the church thinking about how I can lead people to be better at being the church. And then God spoke up and told me to quit thinking about it and do it. So I pulled back in and walked over to the homeless man. I introduced myself to Tom and made the offer of all I thought this encounter would cost me. “Can I buy you some lunch at Whataburger?”
Tom accepted. He and I walked together over to Whataburger. I told him he could get whatever he wanted. He got a plain burger and a drink – that was all. We sat down together and we talked while he ate. We talked for 45 minutes about life, Jesus, God’s love, his story, and I prayed for him. I then walked him back to his spot asking for help and I got back in my truck to leave. He simply left me with, “Thank you and God bless.”
This encounter cost me $4.87 out of my wallet, but in all reality it cost me so much more. It cost me my nice little bubble. It cost me my nice little picture of myself and the world I live in. It cost me my rationalization that the only reason people are like that is that they are drunks and drug addicts that you can not trust with a dollar bill. It cost me my nice little world. It cost me my own picture of what being the church looks like.
Why did it cost me that? Because Tom had a job less than a month ago. He is not an alcoholic nor a drug addict – he does have some other issues though. He does not like asking for help. He hates it. He wants to work. Truth is he has a plan of how to get back on his feet. He has it all worked out in his head but he has not been able to make it happen just yet. Tom is not a bum. He is a man in need. Tom is not just some addict that can’t be trusted. He is a person that needs to be loved. Tom is not a man to be ignored. He is a man to have a good conversation with. Tom is not a man that will take advantage of you if you gave him the opportunity. Tom is a man that will order the cheapest thing on the menu if you buy him lunch and will thank you like you gave him a house. Tom is not all who I thought he was. And in learning this, I learned that I am not either.
Tom is trying to earn his way back into society, just like the majority of our world is trying to earn their way into God’s grace. He has a plan, but it is not working very well. He has the ideas, but they are falling short. He wants to, but it is not enough. Tom might get there. I believe he can. I pray that I get the opportunity to help him some more along the way, but today I offered him the best help I had. I offered him something to eat, a person to talk with, and the love of Jesus. He wanted it all. He took it all. And he appreciates it all.
Today cost me a great deal in my nice little world, but I don’t want any of it back. I know that today some of you need to quit trying to buy you way into God’s love and accept a gift. Accept it humbly and thankfully like Tom accepted mine today, but accept it. Some of you who have accepted God’s grace, love, and blessings in your life need to step out of your Christian bubble and let God rock your world. It will cost you, but it is well worth the price.
If you are thinking about coming to Fellowship this Sunday, DO IT! God has something to give you.