Monday, February 13, 2012

The Least of These

I have a confession to make: I find it easy to think of excuses for why things I read in the Bible don't apply to me. That's a scary thing to admit to myself, but it's true. 

I was gently convicted of one of these areas the other day. Some good friends of ours run a food pantry here in town, and they have a really unique and really important place in ministering to poor people in their area who need help. Now, as much as I would've denied it if someone had said it to me, I have the standard subconscious "conservative American" response to the question of the poor ("Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?"), and I always thought that I was glad that God called some people to minister to those people, because I didn't feel like I was called to do so. 

Our church has been working with this food pantry for the last few weeks, and has been encouraging everyone to sign up to help in some specific area of running the ministry. Since these are people we know, Cynthia and I thought it would be good to sign up and help. Well, our family ended up getting sick right beforehand, so I was the only one who could go, and I felt like I was just fulfilling the obligation we had signed up for. I figured I'd put in my time, and that was that. However, as I worked there, I really felt a belonging, and a fulfillment, that I wasn't expecting. 

Helping at that food pantry, as much as it was something I wouldn't have volunteered for on my own and wasn't looking forward to, was something that was good for me to do.As we learned more about in our church's blog post a little while ago, Jesus cares deeply about how we treat those not as well off as we are. I was convicted that it's too easy for me to assume that this is someone else's job, and that He does call me to look for ways to help the poor around me. The fulfillment I felt in doing a job that I "didn't feel called to" was a gentle conviction that God calls all of us to care for the poor. We in the American church are good at paying lip service to this because Jesus said so much about it, but I realized how much I've lacked in my personal application of this truth.

I'd encourage anyone to help out at a food pantry sometime, if you have one in your area. It might be a good experience for you, as it was for me.
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