Shawn Spradling wrote a great note. i want to include everything for you and then for me. The reason: I need this as a reminder as we begin to make a few changes in ministry style/philosophy.
I'm in day 2 of the New Thru 30 challenge. Today's passages are Matthew 13 thru Matthew 23. Reading large chunks of scripture like this gives greater continuity to the story. I was gripped today by Matthew 14:14-16:
14 "Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.15 That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”16 But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.”
The context here is that is that Jesus was going to a remote area to be alone. Yes, Jesus needed some space. Yes, Jesus needed some downtime. Yes, Jesus needed a break from people. I can relate. I heard Bill Hybel's once say, "Don't get so busy doing the work of God that you neglect the work of God in you." If the Son of God needs time alone, certainly I need it no less. Rest and work is a healthy rhythm.
But of course, Jesus is interrupted. The crowds followed him. He doesn't send them away. He doesn't tell them to come back later. He doesn't tell them to schedule an appointment. No. He has compassion on them. Compassion. This is a word that God is pressing on my heart. I don't think the Church (capital C) has done a very good job at showing compassion to the world. In fact, I believe we've done a pretty good job at sending the crowds away. That's what the disciples wanted to do. "We don't have the resources, Jesus. We can't meet their needs. Send them somewhere else. We're tired. We're hungry. Let them go."
I think we're pretty good at showing compassion to our own. But we have some work to do at showing compassion to those are not like us. How are we at loving the lonely? How are we at clothing the naked? How are we at healing the hurting? How are we at feeding the hungry? How are we at caring for the outcast?
Jesus said, "You feed them." "Me? Us? But how? We don't have enough?" And then Jesus says in verse 18, "Bring them here." The answer to the question is always Jesus! God equips us with everything we need in order to do what he calls us to do. And if we, the Church, believed that, I'm naive enough to believe that we could make a dent in this world by feeding people with the love of the Father.
Compassion. That's what we need to be about. And when we're not sure how we're going to meet the needs of people, I pray that we will have enough faith to "bring them to Jesus." Center Pointe is in the research phase of creating a special needs ministry. This is about compassion. This is about meeting the needs of the families that God is bringing to our church. I'm ashamed to say that we've had to send some away. We didn't have the resources...or, maybe we lacked faith in the Resource Giver.
Ministry is not about creating momentum where none exists. It's about responding to the needs right in front of you. It's about joining the momentum that God has already created. We have families with special needs children. We have children with no families. We have impoverished people within 5 minutes of our church. Who will feed them? Who will meet their needs? I think Jesus is saying to us, "You feed them."
Let's be faithful to the mission in front of us. Let's be a church that doesn't send people away, but shows compassion to broken people. I hope that when our work is done here that Jesus could say of Center Pointe what he said of the Church in Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8..."See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name." I pray that Jesus could say about Center Pointe that we were faithful. That we cared more about compassion than crowds...that we cared more about ministry than marketing...that we cared more about people than programs.
Can we do that? Jesus believes we can. In fact, he expects it. Let's not send people away. Let's feed them the daily bread of the Living Word.