So today I was invited by a chap I didn’t know to help him do an armed robbery…
Never had this happen before, the last time something almost as strange happened to me I was in Tangier and a Jamaican chap came up to me on the street and asked if he could buy something from me to help him have a ‘tripping experience’. I was suprised to be mistaken for someone selling ‘tripping experiences’, until my friend pointed out that my clothing which included a Fijian bright orange shirt, and the people I was with (a wonderful group of very hippy looking friends) may not have helped. To my surprise I found myself offering the man (like Peter in Acts 3:6) an experience he couldn’t buy anywhere. I offered to pray for him to receive and know the presence and peace of God, at this point he realised I wasn’t quite what he had thought, and he pretty much ran away!
So back to today, being asked to be involved in an armed robbery was a little different from my usual Tuesdays, or any day for that matter! I was pretty sure it wasn’t a serious request, but to make sure I asked what sort of gun was going to be used, and the chap didn’t have one. (This was a step in the right direction I thought to myself). And throughout the rest of the conversation it was a privilege to move on from the presenting problem and be able to try and be a support to the actual needs being faced.
Once I said goodbye I felt myself remembering something I had read earlier, Matthew 25:35 talks of how when we give the hungry something to eat, when we give the thirsty something to drink, when we welcome the stranger, clothe the one who needs clothes, look after the one who is sick and visit the one in prison we are actually feeding, serving, welcoming, clothing, looking after and visiting Jesus himself!
I think sometimes it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the need around us, and that is living in the west, perhaps we should try living in Africa. But, if we feed ourselves, clothe ourselves and nourish ourselves in our Father’s house at our Father’s table, then we are resourced to help others from a place that doesn’t run out and knows no lack. I am inspired by Heidi Baker in this, she often speaks about loving and stopping for the One. It is so important we don’t live our lives in such a way as to ignore what, or more importantly who is right in front of us, but instead that we lift our eyes and see Jesus in the face of the person we have been put in front of.
Matthew 25: The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
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, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
One incredible thing I think it is easy to miss when reading these verses is that our inheritance of the kingdom is actually dependant on our stopping for the one, stopping for and seeing Jesus in those we meet. This is made starker in the following verses (41 to 46) that explain those “Goats” seperated from the Sheep and assigned to the left are then asked to depart as a result of not having loved the one in front of them.
When I read these verses and think on these things I am just so thankful that I get to be a part of an amazing church led by incredible leaders, that is bursting at the seams with projects and activities to facilitate us loving people and meeting their practical and spiritual needs. And when you think about the gravity of the verses above, you realise these things aren’t just nice things that church happens to be doing, but these are the things we can not afford to not be doing!
There are people that for whatever reason we may usually just walk on by, but I feel reminded again today of the importance to try and stop for the one. With the phenomenal revelation being that as we do, we are stopping for and serving Jesus!
Its just a quick thought, prompted by something out of the ordinary that attracted my attention enough to make me stop for the one in front of me. I hope this will mean I walk in to tomorrow with a slightly different perspective than I started today, I hope maybe that blogging it will help you to do the same?