I recently learned of a woman without a home. A close friend of mine met her and listened to her story. It’s a heart-wrenching one; almost more so because all of the avenues for assistance are closed to her. Why? Because she has too much money in savings. You see, unfortunate circumstances have placed her in her current situation in spite of her living well and being responsible. She simply can’t afford $1,000 a month to rent a room.
This situation caused me to revisit my thoughts on the role of the church in the community. The Bible makes it clear that the Body of Christ should be His hands and feet in the world. Yes, it means we should be declaring the gospel wherever we are, but I also think it means sharing His love in a way that meets physical and emotional needs and not only spiritual ones; in fact, in the process of meeting those tangible needs, we are often able to address the ones less visible.
I am afraid that the western church has become too comfortable. The state has been more than willing to take over our God-entrusted responsibilities and we have allowed it. We hide behind “separation of church and state” or we tout legalities as reasons for not getting our hands dirty. We assume someone else will take care of it when we don’t want to or assuage our unsettled consciences by saying we would do something if God told us directly to do it. We have become very good at sitting in our pew and nodding our heads and going home to our routines.
I was thinking about the number of churches in an average American city and considered the potential within them. What would happen if ALL Christians helped the homeless in their communities? Took in children in need? Provided shelter for those fleeing abuse? Cleaned up our streets? Offered tutoring programs? Created job opportunities? Offered counseling services? Established pregnancy resource centers? Imagine if those churches that are already doing some of these things mentored the ones who are not! Consider the resources, gifts and skills that are idling and the impact they would have if they were kicked into gear!
James tells us that faith without works is dead. This does not mean we can earn our salvation; salvation is by God’s grace alone; it is impossible to earn salvation. What it does mean is that if we have faith nothing can stop us from declaring it by doing all the good we can; in doing so our faith is bolstered. I want to challenge you to start praying today about what God wants YOU to do in YOUR community. Don’t let COVID stop you; don’t let the state stop you; don’t let naysayers stop you. If God is prompting you to reach out and make a difference, do it! and then see what happens!