I have been privileged to be on our church's diaconate for about three years now. It is definitely something I needed for my growth, though I'm not sure how qualified I was or am to do it. I feel this much more now that I have kids. Rather than feeling more spiritual or more mature, I have come to feel more incompetent in many ways. Nevertheless, I have been privileged to serve among many who have a great deal of
I've run into a lot of interesting people requesting assistance over the past three years, have been in a lot of interesting situations, and have heard many heartbreaking stories. As I have recently reflected upon some of those experiences and how I could apply my learning to the mission in Romania, I have come up with several lessons I would like to highlight for those who may also find themselves in mercy related situations, or those who are just interested in some of what our work entails. Regardless, they are good lessons for anyone who finds that they just can't get along in life without relating to and working with other human beings. In this entry, I am going to focus more on the work that has gone on inside of me rather than the specifics of handling crises, as it wasn't until I realized the need in my own heart that I began to really do the work of mercy. I found that strategies and wisdom in action alone were largely irrelevant - at least in terms of lasting impact.
Where's the grace? Sure, I understand my desire to be a good steward of God's resources, and I don't want to be foolish with divvying out funds and time, which are limited. But I have to ask myself where grace falls in the minds of the individuals who are coming in to us. They obviously use the lingo they do for a reason. Church people, to them, seem like the type who want you to be a certain way before they open their arms up to you. That's what it boils down to. They wouldn't use all that fake jargon if they thought our interest was them, not what they knew or how they acted. I have to ask myself why that perception exists in their minds. Sadly, I think it's because that's how must churches present themselves to the public, and probably the only experience individuals in need have ever had with churches or church members. Rather than being cynical of the intentions of those in need, or at least along with being cynical, I should have a deep sense of sadness and remorse for the way Christians have turned others off to Christ. I should grieve the way grace and mercy have been abandoned by those who have received them in great measure, and the way I and the church have projected those evil notions to others. And after I bemoan the improper perception and the inappropriate handling of grace and mercy, I need to be willing to fix that perception, and handle both grace and mercy appropriately by not withholding them from individuals simply for expressing their needs in a faulty manner. How ironic it would be to withhold grace and mercy from those who are most in need of experiencing them.
I have learned and am continuing to learn that you're often buttered up because you look like bread. Unfortunately in US churches - as well as in the grocery store - it's often the blanched white bread that is most available. It's so tasty and appealing on the surface, but lacks nutritional value. Man cannot live on bread alone, but rather on every word that comes from God. In fact, the living water and the bread of life are the Word of God - Christ Jesus himself. How better to meet needs than to be broken and spilled out for others, just as he was for us? I have learned that we are perceived as bread for some of these folks who come to us with needs, as we are the ones - maybe the only ones - who can provide for them in their plight. Rather than judge them for putting on a show for me, I need to hear them out and sift through their need, showing them grace and mercy which are the true vittles unto life.