Friday, November 30, 2012
Why We Do What We Do
Nobles Chapel Baptist Church, where I gratefully serve as Pastor, is part of a tremendous collaboration of churches and community organizations called CHEW (Children's Hunger Elimination of Wilson). CHEW was developed last year to meet the needs of school-aged children who likely do not have food in their homes for weekend meals. This organization partners together for buying power to purchase food for these children for their weekend meals at a price that is less than what any church could buy on their own. Buying in bulk, you know? And I'm happy to say that EVERY child that has been identified in Wilson County as food insecure is receiving a weekend meal bag this school year.
Recently, CHEW was faced with a decision about putting encouraging messages in the bags for the kids each week. Do we put general messages in there? Can we include Scripture or references to God? We sought the council of school principals and other administrators and ultimately (probably to no surprise) the decision was made to include messages without reference to God.
Fast-forward to today when I was at a meeting of Wilson area ministers and the issue of "the encouraging messages" came up. This is what I heard one pastor say:
"If we can't put messages in the bag that tell the kids where it comes from or about a relationship with Jesus, what's the point? Maybe we'll just give our money somewhere else."
I've heard these kinds of comments before. In fact, I've heard it from people at every church I've served:
"I don't understand why we keep giving and doing the weekend meal bags when we haven't seen any of those kids and their families come to our church as a result."
"I see people drive up to fill-in-the-blank-organization in nicer cars than I drive to get food, clothes, etc., so I've stopped bringing things when we have drives for that ministry."
"I'd give him some money, but he'll probably just buy alcohol or drugs."
In a culture where people are increasingly skeptical of the Church and Christians and their efforts at evangelism and mission, we have to ask ourselves about the motivation for what we're doing. Sure, we should be about communicating our faith and telling others about the life-changing difference Christ has made in our lives and how we'd love for everyone to know what it means to have a relationship with God. I'm not trying to minimize that responsibility.
But, "what if there was no chance that I'd come to your church or come to your faith. Would you still give me and my family food on the weekend? Would you still donate clothes or money to help me? Would you still be my friend if 'relationship evangelism' will never lead me to faith?"
May I submit to you that if your answer is "no" to any of the above questions, then your motivation for mission is misinformed. I believe that the spirit in which Jesus calls us to give and meet the needs of those around us is because that's just what we do. It isn't to see bigger attendance numbers or even just to see the recipient "get saved". It's because the people of God see a need in this world and they meet that need, regardless of the outcome.
I have to believe that Jesus knew that out of the ten lepers he healed, only one would return to give thanks (Luke 17), but He did it anyway. And I certainly have to believe that God knew that not everyone would accept His son and His sacrifice on the cross, but Jesus died for us anyway. Why give regardless of the outcome? Because that's just what God does.
So give. Give whether you can tell the kids the food is from Jesus or his church or not. Give whether he'll use it on drugs or not. Give whether they need it or not. Give.
Give, because as people of God, that's just what we do.
Paul Botson is the pastor of Nobels Chapel Baptist Church in Sims, NC. This article originally appeared on Paul’s blog, http://paulbatson.blogspot.com/.