Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For [we have become companions of the Messiah] if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV [Bracketed text from HCSB])
My recent letter to the editor seems to have acheived nothing but offense. The response has, for the most part, been less than positive. One man proceeded to list off examples of churches who were doing things for the homeless followed by the typical response, “So what are you doing about it?” The other printed response in the paper was simply a personal attack implying laziness on my part in regards to helping the homeless.
Now I have no problem with criticism. I don’t even really mind when people send personal attacks my way. I’ve kinda learned to expect it since I often write about topics other than homosexuality, abortion, and obscure theological matters. But what I didn’t expect was an attitude from fellow church people that says, in essence, “I don’t see you doing anything, so why should I?”
We in the church seem to have lost the ability to accept criticism from fellow believers. The pastor says he wants to move the church to a new location to better reach the lost in the community, and we immediately find excuses not to do it. Someone comes along and says that we aren’t doing enough to aid the homeless and we demand proof that the person speaking is already doing it. And when he is, we give him our spare change, say God bless and resume our lives of complacency.
When I write, I am not writing because I want other people to take up the slack from what I refuse to do. I’m not sitting idly by and telling others to do my work for me. I actually just want people to join me in caring.
When I tell people that people are part of the cause of global warming, I don’t want debate and inaction. I want people to join me in doing whatever we can to reduce our contribution. I can’t stop it alone, but together, we might actually be able to do considerable good.
When I tell people that genocide in Darfur is wrong and that we need to do something, I don’t want excuses about why we can’t do it. I want people to join me in prayer and in seeking out answers.
When I exhort the church to help the homeless, I don’t want judgment and condemnation. I want people to come along with me and help me make a difference. Alone, I can only help one person. But together, we might actually be able to help an entire community.
In the passage I quoted above, the writer to the Hebrews tells us,
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:13 ESV Emphasis mine)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
Today is a never-ending day. It is always today. That is why I call us to action every time I write. We must exhort each other every single day so that “none of [us] may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
We were not meant to walk this walk alone. Being a Christian was never intended to be an “us versus them” or a Baptist thing or a Presbyterian thing or an Emergent thing or a Catholic thing. It was meant to be a Jesus thing. And He called us to be as one.
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21 ESV Emphasis mine)
Alone, none of us are going to make it. Seperate, the Baptists will fail. Seperate, the Presbyterians will fail. Seperate, the Emergents will fail. Seperate, the Catholics will fail. We need each other if we want to succeed at that for which Messiah Jesus has sent us.
To go into the world, teach people how to obey Jesus, and share His story is not something that any one group has the copyright to. It is a task that we have all been given to accomplish.
Global climate change will never be effected by one person buying a hybrid. But if we all work together to do our part, something could happen. Genocide in Darfur will not be effected by one person’s money sent to a charity. But if we all work and pray together, love will prevail. The homeless here in my own community will never be reached if I’m the only one doing anything. But if we all work together, we can make a difference.
And before you ask, “What are you doing about it?” I am meeting with whoever shows up this evening to begin work to enact change in this community. I want to be the change. And if no one joins me, then who’s hands is the blood on?