The other day, I was searching the net for information for a project I am working on and came across a video that set me on my heels. I believe God used that video to reprimand me gently but firmly.
If He had spoken audibly to me I believe His words would have been, “Are you practicing what you preach, Edward?”
The video was of a pastor who was accepting a position at a new church. He had been interviewed and accepted by the board, and was to be introduced to the congregation this particular Sunday morning. The congregation had no idea what was about to happen.
Outside the church (a very large and wealthy one), there appeared a “homeless man”. Not dirty, or in need of a bath but dressed as a homeless person in need of some help. He meandered through the people heading to church. He asked a few for some change to buy food. The folks he approached looked down on him and wouldn’t talk to him or made it a point to avoid him.
As the time for the service approached, he entered the church and walked down toward the front. He found a seat in one of the front pews. An usher approached him and politely asked him to move to the very back of the church. He complied and sat quietly.
Then it came to the point in the service that the new pastor was to be introduced. One of the elders stood up and began to introduce the “new pastor”. The congregation stood and applauded expectantly. The “homeless” man, stepped from the back pew and made his way to the front of the church.
There are several variations of this story on the web. One of them has the new pastor quoting from Matthew 25: 34- 40 (NIV)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ ’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
I said as I began this story, that I was taken aback by it and that God used it to reprimand me gently but firmly. Now my story…
About a week ago, I was out and about. I was in a rush, but I needed a cup of coffee. So I stopped at the Starbucks, in the Safeway, on 320th. As I walked toward the door, to the left of it, by maybe ten feet, was a petite, disheveled woman, huddled by the wall, under an overhang, out of the rain. I glanced at her and continued walking. I bought my coffee and came out, glancing again at the “poor wretch” and feeling sorry for her, but doing nothing. I walked to my car and drove off.
That video and the other stories, I believe, were meant to reprimand me for not practicing what I preach. I don’t imagine I will ever see that woman again, but I will never forget her. I did what was best for me not her. What could I have done for her? I really don’t know. But if nothing else, I could have prayed for her.
After the video, I spent time on my knees asking the Lord to forgive me for my callousness. These are tough times right now. I can’t provide for the needs of all the people that are out there, but there are some that I can. Those that the Lord puts in front of me and says, “This is one of mine that needs your help.”
Listen for His leading and act on it. I will!
My parting question: “If a “homeless” person were to appear on the door steps of our church, how would he or she, be treated?” I hope the answer is that we would respond as Jesus did, with LOVE!