The following was originally posted on January 10, 2011.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:34-40
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in , I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
In November of 2006, I had the opportunity to visit the country of Liberia, in West Africa. My home church, Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, had given some assistance to a church there outside the capital city of Monrovia. Commission Baptist Church is the name of that church in West Africa and it is led by a truly wonderful and loving pastor. At the time I visited the church, Liberia was just beginning to recover from a brutal fourteen year civil war in which many lives were lost. Most families in the church had to cope with the loss of one or more family members.
Our church had given financial assistance to Commission Baptist Church to rebuild the roof on their church. The roof was removed and the church was almost destroyed during the civil war. The church was very important to the congregation and they wanted to get their place of worship back in the best condition possible.
One of the first things that I noticed when we arrived at the church was a hand made sign that read, “Just one step and God will do the rest.” It was several days later however, that I really began to recognize the significance of those words to the people of Commission Baptist Church.
We were in a meeting with the deacons from Commission Baptist Church and some deacons from other area congregations. I started telling the deacons about how our church feels a calling to do mission work. I told them about the bread burners – a retired group of men in our church who decided to go out into the community feeding the hungry and sharing the love of Christ. I shared with them how several Sunday school classes volunteer to prepare and serve lunch at Our Daily Bread, for the homeless in our community. I told them about Touching Taliaferro with Love, the summer camp to help disadvantaged children in the poorest county in Georgia.
I told them about the group of church members that went to Louisiana to help people recover from the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina. I shared with them the story of people in our church that volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
Pastor Weah, the pastor of Commission Baptist Church, later said, “That’s what I am trying to make my congregation to be more aware of. We are called to move beyond the walls of this church and go out into the community and share the love of Christ with people that do not know Christ.” “We have to move beyond our comfort zone and be out among people who are different.”
This pastor was speaking to his congregation that had lost practically all of their possessions and who were struggling daily to feed their families. And their pastor was asking them to go out and help others – and share the love of Christ with their neighbors and with complete strangers. I’m sure that they had to wonder how they were going to be able to do that when putting food on their table was their main concern each day. Pastor Weah would later tell his congregation that it is not about what we as humans are able to accomplish, it is God’s will that will be carried out if we listen, obey and are faithful. We can’t be afraid of the unknown, or fearful of others who are different from us. We can’t let our own individual limitations stop us. Just one step and God will do the rest.
As followers of Christ we are called to help others and to show compassion to others. We learn to think less about ourselves and our own needs and more about the needs and concerns of others. And when you do this you have the promise of Jesus to “take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
God, help me to be more aware of how I can help my fellow human beings. Help me to not be judgmental and to be more loving, like the example that Jesus gave us to follow. Take away my selfishness and give me a desire to help others that truly need some love and compassion in their lives. Amen.