Thursday evening we were in a mall near the airport in Baltimore, MD. There was a guy who came up to me and asked me about my WV shirt, gave me a story about just getting back from Afghanistan, about locked keys in a van, and needing money. As it happens, I had $30 in my wallet, which quite honestly is an unusually large amount for me. I gave the guy the $30. As soon as we parted I got this feeling I’d been duped. And that’s the end of the story. I have similar stories. You have similar stories. They’re not stories that we can recall when we’re in similar situations in the future to encourage us to help others. However, they are stories of faithfulness. They are times when we just do the thing Jesus would have us do – the right thing. I didn’t discreetly follow the guy to see if he was going to scam another unsuspecting tourist in the mall or enjoy dinner and skee-ball at Dave and Busters. In this case, what happened after I did what I was supposed to do was irrelevant to me. All that was relevant to me what for me to be obedient to what Christ calls me to.
In the book of Jeremiah in the Bible, Jeremiah preached somewhere between 20 and 40 years to the people in his country telling them to turn to God. And nobody listened. Nobody turned from their ways. That doesn’t matter. He did what he was called to do. Jeremiah was in the information business. God is in the transformation business.
Likewise, I am in the information business, currently at Wesley Chapel UMC in Short Gap, WV. And I am called to do here what I did at Mason UMC for the six years God had me there: To preach the relevant and exciting Gospel so that the lost will come to Christ and once they do to tell AND SHOW them and the other believers in the church what was/is required of them. Micah 6:8 is good – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” And Jesus said, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s difficult not to gauge your efforts by the results. Thanks be to God, He blessed us with great results in Mason. Now I am called to do the same here. And I pray for similar results. I believe God will again bless my (and Diane’s) efforts. But if He doesn’t, that will not matter to me. I know what He has called me to do:
To preach the relevant and exciting Gospel so that the lost will come to Christ and once they do to tell AND SHOW them and the other believers in the church what was/is required of them.
And like the guy who has the money I gave him, what they do with it is up to them. I am not responsible for that.
I had a similar situation, I was duped right at Wesley Chapel Food Pantry, a man came and told me his daughter had died. He was on his way to a VA center for treatment of lung cancer, and his poor little wife was so hungry, He wanted funds from the church, the treasurer was not there, so while Vida Lee prepared bags of groceries for them, I wrote them a personal check to get gas for his van, next night he was seen playing bingo at the fire hall, we always say the same thing to, what I done is between God and me, and what he done is between him and God. So it really doesn’t matter when we think we have been scammed just as long as we were doing it because we thought it was the right thing and doing in the name of God.
Great example. I just have to be careful not to be cynical the next time.
Oh, we were a little cynical after, like we can’t believe he would do that at a church, but then when you think about it. Your ok! You still did the work of God.
If you want, you can listen to this sermon that I did last year in April that speaks to people who abuse our help – http://www.masonumc.com/sermons/sermon120422.wma
I listen to your sermon, and it really hit home. Thanks so much for leading me to listen to this.