My slumbering fingers awake and I write again. I had a conversation with an acquaintance yesterday who asked how "the church" was going. I had been working nonstop the past several days and was taking the day off, so I should have simply smiled and said "Sorry man, I'm taking my Sabbath and am not allowed to talk about work." He would have understood (probably), but I changed the subject instead. It came back again, and he shared his ministry of helping people to cast their vision to as large an audience as possible through effective marketing. Although I respect him and what he does, I replied that I have trouble with the terms "marketing" and "church" used together. My focus is obedience to God and loving the people he puts in my path day by day, and teaching others to do the same. The River is being built on this foundation.
It gets frustrating at times when people who are already in churches don't get what we are trying to do as a faith community. So I sat in my office praying this morning ("Yeesh, Lord, what am I doing?") and I decided to check my office phone messages. I got the usual hang-ups (one my friends won't leave messages no matter how often I tell him to) and such. After erasing those, I noticed that there was a message that had been saved for some reason. Not knowing what it was, I hit play and heard God.
It wasn't God's audible voice, but it was a message that I needed to hear. A few weeks ago, I felt a series of questions go through my mind. I make it a discipline to write this stuff down on my PDA whenever I feel inspired, but my PDA was not around me. So, I called my office and left a message for me figuring that I'd write it down when I got to my office the next day. I forgot to write it and let it drift in my subconscious until this morning.
Here's what I said: "Why did Jesus chase the crowds away? Why did Jesus go against everything that we think of in terms of success and only saw success in a few dedicated as opposed to the masses? Why did Jesus say that if we were to follow Him, there would be repercussions? That people would hate us. Well, why would people hate us? People don't hate us for doing good things to them. But people hate us when we do good things to those who they feel don't deserve to be treated well. Maybe we should see what we are doing."
To put things in perspective, two days ago I received a warning from a security company not to trespass on their client's property as I take hot coffee to local migrant workers who wait by the roadside for work. They have been chased from location to location like rats. I am not an advocate for general amnesty, but these people are HERE and are due rights as human beings. There is constant pressure from a very vocal minority to rid our town of them, so I am not winning some friends by treating these people (legal and illegal) with respect, dignity, and love.
So I feel that God audibly spoke to me this morning (albeit He used my own voice). I also believe that this message is not for me alone.
"Being "successful" does not revolve around numbers but rather it centers on our obedience. Love people who are mistreated."
Let us obey, and let us love.