edit: fixed the link. seriously. click on that. if that doesn’t make you feel giggly or weird… then you’re not human.
Looking at my last few post, I’ve been a bit cranky, cynical and critical. I apologize. And I’m sorry to say that it’s not going to be that different this post. But before I continue, please have faith in me that the entire Romans chapter 2, particularly the first verse, is in my heart and ringing in my head. However, if you want to avoid reading what I have to say, then please feel free to skip over and click on this link instead. And I’ll see you next time.
If you’re here, I guess the curiosity has gotten the best of you.
I heard a story that just made me shake my head.
A lady called a homeless shelter saying, “Look, I’ve been trying to drop off these boxes of plates since last December because we got a whole new set of dishes. When can I come and drop off these plates?”
The person who answered replied, “I’m sorry. But right now our volunteer coordinator is not in, and I do not have authority to say yes or no.”
“Since when did you guys become so high and mighty that I can’t just come and drop things off? I need to get rid of these boxes of plates, because I keep tripping over them. So, what? Can I drop them off?”
“Ma’am, I’m really sorry, but I can’t really say.”
“Why can’t you guys just accept donations? I used to be able to come around and just drop whatever off.”
“Well, our donation closet is just full and honestly, a lot of the times, when we do accept donations, it’s things that are not useful and at times, just trash that people want to get rid of.”
“Well, even if it is trash, can’t I drop it off and then you guys throw it away? I need to get rid of these boxes.”
“Ma’am, I’m sorry, but it’s not our job to accept trash and throw it away.”
“Well, you guys have a real shitty way of running things. You know, my church does a great job of collecting things and donating to the people in need. I need to get rid of these boxes!”
“Well, there’s Salvation Army a block away from us, Good Will is around the corner. And the Catholic church across our street does wonderful things and accepts donations. I’m sure any of those great places will take your plates.”
I’m sure that little conversation had Jesus beaming with pride.
I can’t help, these days, to be reminded of Gandhi’s comment: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
I guess I should be happy that people are willing to give and donate.
But, when we give, what is our motive?
Are we giving things that people really need and can benefit from?
Or are we giving out of our selfish ambition? Such as attention and recognition? Or to appease the god of guilt?
Or are we giving out of convenience? Such as donating things we found in the back of the garage during our Spring cleaning? Or old stuff that we don’t need to take up space in our homes?
(How do you think the lady would respond if the staff person said “if you really feel the need to donate, why don’t you keep the box of old plates, and donate your new kitchenware?”)
There’s also another couple who constantly donates to this same organization. They go out to Costco and picks up what has to be $500 worth of NEW things that people actually need and can use. And I don’t know if they’re Christian or not. They never bring it up. They never openly talk about their faith. They give quietly. They don’t make a fuss. They don’t bring attention to themselves. They just give and go and constantly ask “What do your people need?” Which makes me conclude that they must just do it out of their compassion and the kindness of their heart. Their reward will be in heaven, while those who constantly bring up the fact that they are donating, well they have received their reward.
Stories like the lady, trying to donate a box of plates because they were getting the way, make me upset. And you wonder why so many non-Christians have such negative images about us Christians. We’re not helping to improve our image, and therefore turning people away from God.
If we’re going to give, we shouldn’t give things that we were going to toss out.
If we’re going to give, we shouldn’t go shouting to anyone within ear distance of what we are doing.
If we’re going to give, we need to have a better reason than just receiving a tax break.
And we shouldn’t brag about our relationship with God. For starters, we’re going to be held at a higher standard in the eyes of others; standards and expectations that we’re not going to be able to meet. Not only that, words don’t mean nothing. Our actions will always speak louder than words. So if we feel the need to boast our relationship with God, and let us do so by our actions of love and grace.
And please, please remember this: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
Because being a Christian doesn’t give us an excuse to be crappy human beings hiding behind the name of God and the church.
Not everyone is Christian in the world. And you might be the only Jesus that someone will ever see. What image of Jesus do we want to leave them with?