Friday, May 21, 2004

finding a place in this world

Yesterday I talked about separation. In the Old Testament, circumcision was a physical sign of being in the covenant. St. Paul talked about being circumcised in your heart. Which is, I believe, where true separation takes place. My heart belongs to God. God can be anywhere my heart is and He recognizes His ownership. In fact, He's in there Himself.

Today I just want to lend some practical thoughts to serving others, to being Jesus, not just talking about Him, to those who may or may not (sometimes faith isn't as orthodox or protestant/evangelical as we like to think it is) have a true, abiding faith in Christ.

First of all, I think a lot of us spend way too much time in church, or doing things for church. We're so busy we have no time to be Jesus to those who need His touch the most, to build the kingdom of God. How many programs do you personally need to be involved in? Really? I love it that churches have options, but that doesn't mean each family has to take part in every option there is! I don't think God meant for us to be so busy in the storehouse we spend no time in the fields.

Here's what I do. I'm not saying this is right for you. But you can get the idea and find yourself a community. I write and do some general hanging out at a cigar shop. Now before I go on and on and act like I'm all that, let me say, these people are my friends and have been so kind to me, that I've ended up receiving far more than I give. Which is so like God, isn't it?

Our conversation rolls around to faith issues more than one might think, without my ever engineering it at all. Sometimes, I hardly join in. Maybe just a comment or two. But the great thing is, these folks don't mind hearing my opinion, in fact Main Street Cigar is a place where all opinions are allowed. Be ready to defend it, mind you, because Tony, the owner, doesn't let you get away with not giving a good reason!

It's hard to describe the attitudes and atmosphere of Main Street Cigar. But there I am, in the leather chair, with my computer or notebook, and I belong. They love me and I love them and I hope some of the faith I have rubs off because I know what a difference it can make (not because I think they should agree with me), but that's God's job, not mine. I just simply show up and have a really good time. Try to serve them in small ways, but more importantly I really care about my friends there. And it isn't some manufactured caring, I just do, because they're wonderful people and how could I not? It isn't as scary out and about as some Christians think.

Christians get so busy trying manipulate people and situations, it isn't any wonder nobody wants their input. Just . . . be. Hang out. Be a friend without some agenda.

Where can you go? Well, if you're working outside the home--you've already got a place. Ever go for drinks with the gang after work? If you don't, you might think about it. Despite what we've been taught, you won't be made fun of if you get a Coke, and nobody will think you're the devil incarnate if you order a beer. If someone's relative or friend passes away, please, show up at one of the viewings.

If you're not in the outside workforce, find a diner or restaurant where you can have breakfast at least once a week, maybe twice. You'll get to know the regulars in there, as well as the staff, within a month! I used to do work at a Greek Diner here in town. I still go back occasionally, but it proved non-conducive to work there for some reason. Are your children involved in sports? (And don't get me started on the way Christian parents are sacrificing their children on the altar of Athletics!) There you go! Set your lawn chair with the other moms and dads, not off on your own with a book. God help you, I hope that book's not the Bible!

Look for ways. They're out there like crazy. It's nothing to be scared of, and you will be given far more than you give.

And honestly, being salt and light is not an option!

In the meantime there are always small ways to serve others, be an encouragement, to redeem small situations at whim! Read "Servant Evangelism" by Steve Sojgren.




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