Last night The LOT Project was overflowing with people from the surrounding community and a host of volunteers from Gospel Light Church and more. AnMed was there again to encourage and administer free flu shots as cases mount to infect some of the most vulnerable in our area. Special thanks to Bobbie Blake for organizing the effort! The food was incredible and plentiful. As my wife likes to say, “We serve an abundant God.” Indeed we do.
This particular night was just a few days before Thanksgiving. I can’t tell you how many people expressed thanks and gratitude for the kindness shown once again last night. The loving attitude is not unusual, mind you. Those who serve around Anderson pour out love and compassion to people in need every day. This is how they are wired.
Way back in Exodus, Moses conveys God’s desire for His people to live in a thriving community. The plan was unique. Unlike the neighboring regions, God wanted people to love His prized creation: people. A few verses come to mind:
Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.
Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Exodus 22:22, 23:6
These are just two points from a long list of rules that Moses enunciated just a few chapters after receiving the Ten Commandments. While the list encourages some to become legalistic, the core of God’s plan was far from some checklist religion. In order to become distinctive from other nations, Israel would need to have rules to guide their steps. The idea was to become a community that other nations would see and have an overwhelming desire to emulate.
In our modern context, imagine a gathering of people that loved and cared for each other without reservation–a dream church for pastors. In such a church, the widow and the orphan will be part of a family. They would never be abandoned or lonely. The poor would be treated justly; in fact, it would be difficult to see people as rich and poor. People would be cared for as if they were related. Father Gregory Boyle often quotes Mother Teresa like this:
“Mother Teresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just “forgotten that we belong to each other.” Kinship is what happens to us when we refuse to let that happen.’
The insight is breathtaking. What would happen if we treated everyone like family? After all, we’re all related in Christ, right?
Earlier in the day, Zoë and I were at AIM to lend a small hand to their giant operation that distributes Thanksgiving food to hundreds of families from all over the county. Next, I made a quick stop by FAVOR to grab some lunch and, once again, I got to witness servants at work, loving on people as if they were family.
By the time I got ready for bed, my heart was overflowing with joy. As I began to pray for the friends mentioned above, the list continued to grow. If I began to type the list here, this post would go on for page after page. So many caring people. My eyes started leaking as I thought about those in need being cared for by the many faithful people in our community. The names and faces kept coming to mind as I thanked God for each one.
When I see God’s plan for unity playing out in front of my eyes, how can I not be moved? I know we have a long way to go, but friends, the more we embrace one another in love, the more we remember that we belong to each other, the more God’s rules make sense. We don’t need to read the Bible like a list of dos and don’ts. We get to read the Bible as a means of understanding His infinite love and grace for His creation — that includes us!
The biblical mandate to care for the poor is just an opportunity to become more like Christ. Isn’t that what we want?
May our abundant God bless you, immeasurably!
Your brother in Christ,