It has been a long time since I've written anything. I am not sure that anyone even reads these anymore. I hope you are still following this because I started it initially to share what I learn along the way, so you may learn from it too, but now I think I write them more for myself to reinforce what God is doing, showing me and teaching me on this journey. On occasion, I go back and re-read the stories and learn and reinforce and praise God that He continues to gently break me, so He can grow me. With that said, I have a lot of things to write that I just haven't had a chance to put onto paper. So, if you are still out there, there will hopefully be more to come soon.
The story below really challenged me...profoundly challenged me. It challenged me to consider if we really believe Jesus meant what he said. I mean, if you are a believer, you probably go to church and worship Jesus every week. We thank Him for dying on the cross for our sins and we look forward in this season to celebrate His birth, but I think we miss the point of it all if we first don't diligently pursue doing and living as He tells us to do and live. This story reveals that I still have a long way to go...
Tom, retired engineer was approached by one of the boys that lived down the street named Adam. Adam approached him about mowing his yard. They discussed the work, settled on a price and made a deal. Each week, Adam would come and mow the yard, and each week, their relationship grew. They both enjoyed the talks they had…usually, over a cold glass of lemonade.
They talked about all sorts of things, but they would inevitably wind up discussing their faith. Adam was Jewish and loved to study the Torah. Tom, being a Christian, would always talk about Jesus. It wasn’t long until Adam began asking him a lot of questions, so Tom said, “You love to read, so why don’t you take my bible and read about Him for yourself?”
One day after mowing the yard, they sat together and Adam began asking all kinds of strange questions. He asked if the old man worked? Tom replied, “no, I am retired.” He asked him how he could afford to live if he didn’t work? Tom replied, “I paid money into a retirement account, and I live off of that. What kind of question is that anyway?” Adam told him that he was reading in Matthew[i] that Jesus said that we are to take no thought for the future as what you need to eat and what you need to be clothed. “ Tom’s body tensed and took a defensive posture. He felt like saying, “What do you want me to do, live like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field?” He chose not to because he knew that John would have said, “That’s what Jesus told you to do, so why don’t you do it?”[ii]
Tom caught himself starting to think that he wished he had never given that kid his bible to read in the first place, and then it hit him. Here I am, and old guy, living on my pension, social security, and 401(k) that I’ve set aside for my old age, and I’m asking myself how to explain all that while claiming to be a follower of Jesus who said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” I did exactly what Jesus told me not to do. I have laid up treasures for myself here on earth.
Tom looked Adam in the eye for a moment before responding. He said, “Adam, if I don’t save up, who is going to take care of me? My body and mind don’t quite work the way that used to you know. If I get sick and don’t have insurance, who is going to take care of me? Who is going to take care of my wife and kids should something happen to me?”
John looked at Tom with surprised look on his face and said, “Well, the church”, right? You belong to a church, don’t you? Doesn’t the community of Christians take care of its people?”
Tom took a deep breath and said, “You know what John?” You are right in all that you say, but the church as described in Acts 2 seldom exists, and it certainly doesn’t exist for me. I have had to function as an individual rather than being a part of a community that will take care of me when I need help.”
Adam said, “It seems like most Christians know John 3:16, but have never read 1 John 3:17 which basically says, “If you have this world’s goods, and you know of a brother or sister who is in need, and you keep what you have while that person suffers, how can you say, “I have the love of God in my heart?” [iii] They both kind of sat there looking off into the distance for a few seconds, and then Adam broke the silence by wishing his friend a good day. He stood and walked out the door and down the street. He felt great discouragement because he had truly started to fall in love with the Jesus he had read about, but he could not understand how the man that claimed to love Him and the man that wanted so much to introduce him to Jesus didn’t seem to try to live how He taught us to live.
[i] Matthew 6:“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
[ii] Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
[iii] 1 John 3:17-18 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.