It’s been more than a year since my last blog. But the events from this past weekend prompted me to share a few thoughts.
This past Saturday, my son and one of his friends were leaving the church after doing some yard work. I was in my office preparing for Sunday’s message. My son called and notified me of a man walking through our parking lot. The man had placed some clothes under a tarp that I had left out beside our utility room weeks prior. My son also noted that the man used the bathroom on my church wall behind the shrubs.
Initially I was upset. How dare this man walk through our church property, after we had just fed him in our Soup Kitchen (a ministry that feeds over 100 people every Saturday). How dare he do such a thing on our church! He was going to hear from me!
I left my office and went to the utility room where I found the tarp and a bag of clothes. The man saw me near the tarp and returned to explain.
His name was Paul. He left his clothes under the tarp because he had been carrying them all day and wanted a break. He was homeless and just wanted to run to the store next door to our church and not have to carry his clothes with him.
Immediately, my judgmental and religious attitude was humbled. And it was about to be humbled some more.
Then Paul asked me about the tarp. He was wondering who it belonged to. I told him it belonged to the church and we had just not put it away. The next words out of his mouth felt like a punch in my holy, self-righteous stomach. He told me he had used the tarp a few nights ago to stay dry from the rain. He had spent the night under our pecan tree up against the fence. He was thankful we had not put it away.
This man needed help. This man couldn’t help himself. All of a sudden it dawned on me that God cared more about my response to help the man than He cared about the man relieving himself on our building.
Of course, I was truly convicted and I repented for my self-righteous attitude. I gave the man the tarp and told him our church loved him and would help him any way we could.
I’m reminded again today that “the church” is not a building. The church is made up of people. And we are called to care for the poor and minister to those in need. The man didn’t relieve himself on our church. Maybe on our building but not the church.
It is my prayer as we begin our twenty-one days of prayer and fasting today that we see the hurting and struggling people around us and respond by “being the church.” May His love and mercy be our gift to a world that needs it so desperately.