The past few weeks I’ve been making posts about delivering food and other supplies to the homeless in downtown Kansas City. I have been documenting many of these visits and exchanges on my Facebook page as well as this blog.
This “calling” began with me hearing God direct me to help a man wrapped in a blanket on the side of a busy city street as rush hour traffic passed by obliviously one morning before work (actually, what I saw was a body wrapped from head to toe in a purple comforter and I wasn’t sure if it was male or female, alive or dead.) I was really intrigued at that time by the idea of angels living among us and maybe the homeless being a test of how Christ-like we really are.
From that day on, I began seeing the homeless where they have always been in our city: in the parks, bus stops and walking the streets. One morning at work I looked down from an office window and saw that a small band of homeless people set up a camp in the park across the street. The park is rather pathetic – – three benches, a few trees, and a smattering of bushes. The local loft-dwellers use it as a place to take their animals to relieve themselves. I could see the raggedy blankets hanging from the benches where these people slept all night long. That vision kept working on me and I don’t know how but almost immediately the idea came to me that my kids could make some sandwiches and I could pack some bottled water and other things to take these people on my way into work in the morning.
If I was a true Christian — if God really spoke to me last year, which I know he did – –I couldn’t just walk past them. I didn’t think about it in terms of what Jesus would do if he were to be walking by this park one day. There was something greater at work, like Jesus being in me, thinking for me, and making the decision himself. If I’m going to be a Christian, I’m going to be one that takes action. I’m going to be one that sets an example for my children, for other Christians, and for the non-Christians in this world who are waiting and wanting me to fail (or worse, those who have become ambivalent to Christianity after observing the ways of hypocritical Christians.)
I also have to admit that a great deal of this involvement with the homeless has to do with the rush that I feel while making deliveries and afterward. Of course there is pure joy in giving to others and seeing it change their demeanor. Many of the homeless in our city can’t even get acknowledged by other people. Just imagine how it must feel for them to be shown love from a group of teenagers. But once we’ve made our deliveries and I have the satisfaction of knowing that later that day the people we gave to are going to be enjoying a meal that we gave them, my thinking turns in a way that might sound selfish, but certainly doesn’t feel that way. The thought I have is “What is Jesus going to do next? How is God going to lead me?” Seemingly every time I go out of my way to help someone God does something in my life that is unexpected and spectacular. I want to be sure to clarify this point: Those of delivering food don’t do what we do to get something from God. We do it to wait and see how he works in our lives and what new breakthrough will come about because we’ve stepped out of our normal selves to follow his will. Maybe that is a selfish thing for me to admit after all.
I can’t hide the truth though. I want to hear God’s voice again as clearly as he spoke to me just days before becoming a Christian. His voice led me on this path. Hearing his voice with clarity involves prayer and reading His word. I don’t want to be a stagnant churchgoer – – a Sundays-only Christian. I want God’s word (think about that – – God’s word – – words from above, from the Almighty Creator that we all have access to) to infuse my actions. Going to church, worshiping, and returning to the world merely aware of sin is not the life I want for myself. I want to live it!
Living the word isn’t just being mindful of your reactions to the negative and constantly monitoring your behavior – – and it’s not necessarily about getting involved at church either. It’s about taking action, feeling God’s word within you and letting it work through you. Reading God’s word isn’t enough. Those words have to come alive inside you. They have to come off the page and fuel your body. His word has to give you the energy to love, to be kind, and find ways to go out of your way to love and help others.
As Christians, we are marked. We are constantly being watched — of course by the enemy as well as non-Christians. The world is judging us and based on what I’ve seen, many of us have not given our audience the type of truth they need to see about who Christians are at heart.
Don’t exclude the heart from this either. With true Christianity, it always comes down to the conditioning of your heart and what’s in it. Do you believe in Christ? What’s in your heart? Do you love others even when they don’t love you? The answer is in your heart. What’s your relationship like with God? Is there enough Holy Spirit in you to overcome your past failed relationships? You know the answer: it’s in your heart.
When you work from the truth that’s in your heart, your actions do not tie back to good works. Rather, your actions are God’s actions. They are Jesus Christ’s actions in that moment. When my kids and I or our youth group are on the streets to give food to the homeless, we are doing our best to channel Jesus. And the moments when we are most like him are those times when we aren’t thinking about him — but have become him. When we subconsciously behave as Christ – – when he is in us and that become second nature – – that is when our best work as Christians is done.