We are on a journey, each of us. The church is also on a journey. We are looking of meaning in our lives, but we are also trying to discover where God is leading us. At the United Methodist Church of Preston Hollow, we are beginning a process of spiritual discernment as to our vision for the future of our church. Who does God want us to be? In what ways does God want us to serve? Where is God leading us? These are questions we should all be asking ourselves.
One of the hallmarks of a Christian life, a Christian journey, and a God-centered vision is the serving of others. How and why we do this is important for us to discover together. One of the young adults came to me this past Sunday and had a short conversation with me about our missional work. It set me to thinking about how we talk about mission, who we try to engage in the mission of the church, and what is the goal of our mission work?
When we talk of mission, oftentimes we talk in financial terms. Much of what we try to do leads to the church asking for money for us to in turn be missional in our outreach. There are generous persons who will give of their money when the mission focus touches their hearts. We certainly give thanks for those who have the ability to be generous with the treasure with which they’ve been blessed. This is of course, appropriate.
Many persons are touched and blessed by the financial outpouring from members of our church. In the past, we have been able to erase over $750,000 of medical debt, several times we have packed over 10,000 meals to relieve hunger in far-flung places around the world, we have provided love and support for children and families who deal with autism, we have provided school supplies and Christmas gifts for children in our neighborhood elementary school, we have helped senior citizens be able to continue to care for they pets. We have been generous and we have given much treasure to worthy causes. Our goal in our missional outreach is always to share God’s love with those in need. Our goal in engaging in mission is truly to express God’s love. There is no ulterior motive, we simply want to be vessels of blessing to those around us.
In the act of providing God’s love, there is a two-fold blessing: The giver and the one who receives are blessed immeasurably. God’s love flows to both. You might say its exponential in its effect.
But what of the persons in our church who are not financially able to support specific outreach efforts? How are they included in this all important work. This is important to consider, the journey we are on should be about loving God and neighbor. Those who give should feel the love of God flow through them to those who receive. There are many stories about persons who have given to bless others, and many who had little or nothing to give. The widow who put two copper coins in the collection, Jesus said gave more than anyone else. Why? Because she gave everything. Do you believe she was blessed? For her to give it all, she loved God with all she had.
In today’s economy, many struggle to make ends meet and to continue to live. They too want to bless others, to love God and neighbor. How can they feel the blessing of what it means to give if they have no money they are able to contribute. In Acts 3:6, we are told of an encounter Peter and John had with someone in need. The man was lame from birth and the only way for him to survive was to beg at the gate of the temple. When he saw Peter and John, he of course asked them for money. They had none to give, and yet they were blessed to give in their way. In the King James Version of this passage we’re told, “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.’” Was God’s love exponentially released that day? Both the giver and the one who received were recipients of God’s outpouring of love.
Each of us are led to give in the way God has blessed us, the point being that we give. Love is a gift that comes from the heart. We each give according to our own ability. But when we give from the heart, God is loved in ways I have no words to express. That heart gift is the one God truly seeks. Whether you have financial means, or physical means, or spiritual means, when you give from your heart you are blessed, the recipient is blessed, and God is loved!
My prayer for each of us is that on our journey, we will discover ways we can love as we’ve been loved.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,