I began life in Chicago, Illinois. My father was a mechanic who worked on semi-trucks. Mom, was a stay-at-home mother, as many women were in the 1950’s.
Until the age of 5 years I lived the life of Beaver Cleaver, from the popular television show, of the time, Leave It To Beaver. Our street in Sauk Village was tree lined with middle class homes on either side.
By the time that my parents and I moved to Eldorado, Illinois, in an attempt to save their marriage, I discovered myself in a cold-ghost-house…with a dead rat in the bathtub!
When I began the first grade my mother did not have the 20 cents per day that was required for a hot lunch…and so I was the only student in the class that carried my lunch in a brown paper bag.
After my mom and dad divorced…I saved my money in order to purchase a dime glass of whole milk at the corner restaurant as all that we had was powered milk that we were given by the commodities program.
I understand what it is like to feel like an outsider. I know what it is like to be not seen or heard while the more attractive and better dressed kid is chosen for the, enjoyable, tasks.
I became a christian in 1969, primarily because the minister and the congregants made me feel welcome and loved and appreciated!
I fear that we christians are looking for people that look like us…and act like us…and see the world as we see it?
Denominational churches are experiencing a reduction in their membership, and have been for years.
Perhaps we have exhausted the market for doppelgängers?
‘For I was an hungred and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, an ye gave me no drink:’
‘I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick and in prison, and ye visited me not.’
‘Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?’
‘Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to the least of these, ye did it not to me.’ Matthew 25: 42-45 KJV
A church that will open it’s doors and not only welcome…but love…those who are unaccustomed to being welcomed and loved….is doing Christ’s work!
It is not about increasing the membership of your congregation…it is about the message of Jesus!
The kind of love that accepts those who society shuns…is compelling and pure!
Many will be fed…many will feel love…perhaps for the first time!
If our church exhibits the christianity of our mentor, Jesus Christ, we will need a bigger building…just to serve lunch to the hungry!
‘When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.’
‘Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bit!’
‘Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’
‘Jesus said, ‘Have the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.’
‘When they all had enough to eat he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.’
‘After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is come into the world.’ John 6: 7-14 NIV
Note: Images of Jesus feeding the five thousand are courtesy of Google.