I just finished reading a piece in the most recent issue of Relevant Magazine by Adam Smith. I’ve become a huge fan of Adam’s listening to him on the Relevant Podcast, truly one of the funniest things out there. If you don’t subscribe go to itunes now and subscribe. Next to the Ephesus Church podcast, it’s one of the best audio excursions out there! Adam recently moved to New Zealand to explore some new opportunities in life, but he has continued to Skype into the podcast and write for Relevant. This month he recounts a recent occurrence in his life after moving to New Zealand. He was at a bus stop when a young (very) couple sat down next to him. She was crying and the guy was trying to get Adam to talk. Adam relates how he had no desire to talk with them or get involved in the situation. The guy continues to prod and eventually Adam talks with him and learns of the difficult situation they’re in. What Adam honestly admits is that he didn’t want to, and didn’t do much for them and struggled with that reality afterward. He says he can quickly give to a worthy cause, or buy clothing that supports the right causes in the world but when God put opportunity right in front of him he shied away. This struck me to the core. How true of so many of us who claim to be Christians. We’ll give money, drink fair trade coffee and avoid Nikes but when it’s right in front of us, we can’t be bothered, don’t want to be bothered. I struggle with this constantly. I’m working on it. God has called me and Ephesus to Charlotte. There is very wealthy communities in this city and there are extremely downtrodden communities, what am I going to do to be hands-on with both? It can’t just be a check or an exhorting word from the pulpit. It has to be life…. Very soon at Ephesus we’ll be introducing you to the Hyaets Community in West Charlotte. One of our attenders, Anna, is living out Jesus right in the neighborhood. Actions are speaking. I’m praying I’ll get out of my self-induced bunker and live and work with the people God has called us to in Charlotte. I’m praying that the vision God has given for Ephesus will happen. He’s called us to reach those who are more fortunate and then leverage the available resources to impact, in a HANDS-ON way, those not as fortunate. It’s the model of the New Testament church. It’s also the model the founder of our Foursquare movement, Aimee Semple McPherson, lived out at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles during the Depression. Through Angelus Temple, the affluent of Los Angeles, including movie stars like Charlie Chaplin, used what they had to feed and clothe so many affected by the poor economic times. In fact the food banks and commisarys of Angelus Temple fed and clothed more than the City of Los Angeles or any other government agency of the time. Today, the Dream Center and Angelus Temple continue this very hands-on Christian lifestyle. It’s encouraging and challenging to be reminded this kind of Christian lifestyle is a part of our denominational heritage.
I saw myself so clearly in Adam’s story of the bus stop (he’s a former pastor). I’m praying God will increase my boldness. I’m looking forward to plugging in with Anna and Hyaets and what they’re doing in West Charlotte. Pick up a copy of the most recent issue of Relevant and be challenged in what you are REALLY doing to be Jesus to this world and our community.