Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“He said "Love...as I have loved you." We cannot love too much.” ― Amy Carmichael

When I was in seminary, a fellow student from Kuwait had started an illegal, underground church that had over 3,000 members—each one risking arrest and death for attending services which they did every week.  The risks they took for their faith were just awesome.  Yet, in Norway and England, where the state owns the church and hires the pastors, less than 5% of the people attend church.  In Arkansas, the Lutheran church sent Arkansans as missionaries back to Norway to bring people back to Christ.  During the Cold War, Rumanians were denied church yet when they got their freedom, over seven million were still Christian and had been attending secret services.  It seems if you want Christianity to thrive, you suppress it.  If you want it to become meaningless, you give it total freedom.  There are Christians all over the world but not all would willingly accept death rather than give up their faith.  Far too many Christians are hour-a-week Christians, just on Sunday mornings.  I didn’t come up with this, but I like it.  If going to church made you a Christian, going to McDonald’s would make you a hamburger.  Your faith is defined by how you live, how you love others, how you give, the sacrifices you make as you pick up your cross.  I know of a couple in Arkansas who went without air conditioning so that they could give more to Hispanic ministries.  I have never forgotten them or their sacrifice.  It costs about $100 a month to feed 100 orphan children for a month.  How much in your church budget could be going to “I was hungry and you fed me.”  I’m one of those Christians (too few in my opinion) who believe there will be a judgement day.  We will all to have to answer some hard questions about how we treated those in need, those who were defenseless, those whom we turned away, those whom we didn’t welcome in our churches, those whose pleas fell on deaf ears inside our church walls.  There is so much need for love and caring all around you.  Christ is not going to feed and clothe those in your community, He is counting on you.  Does your church only exist inside its four walls?  Better read that 25th Chapter of Matthew again.  Christ says there will be a judgement day and that we will be judged on how we cared for others.  Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “It’s not the difficult parts of the Bible that keep me awake at night.  It’s the parts that are crystal clear.”  Christ exhortations to feed the hungry and clothe the naked are not obscure—they are crystal clear.  Do others see Christ through your actions toward others?  I pray that they do.  I know I would never have become a Christian had I been unable to see Christ in others.  They were the ones who ultimately led to my salvation.  Be the path that others can follow to that peace that passes all understanding.  Be the window to salvation for those who want to see.  It’s not hard.  It’s about being kind, caring, loving, and doing without for yourself so you can give to those in need.  Crystal clear.
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