This weekend at Mountainview we wrapped up our Hope Lives series. During the month of August we explored God’s heart for the poor and disadvantaged and what our role in the solution might be. In addition to our weekend teaching, we encouraged people to read the Hope Lives book and to join a Hope Lives discussion group. It has been a challenging — but encouraging — experience.
For the final teaching time, I spoke about the need for hope to have hands and feet if hope is to truly come alive. Without hands and feet, hope is just a feeling, a sentimentality. It’s one thing to say, “I hope you get what you need.” It’s another to walk alongside a person in need, to put a shoulder to the shovel.
It’s not enough to ask, “How does that make you feel?” When a normal, decent human being is confronted with the images of poverty, abuse, or oppression, they’re going to feel bad. Perhaps even awful.
Instead, we should ask, “What are you going to do?”
For the church to gain street credibility, it must be out on the street. Telling people that Jesus loves them and a better home awaits them in heaven does not put food on their table or clothes on their children.
When Jesus saw a crowd of people who had gathered around him, he “had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Speaking to his disciples, he added, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).
In other words, hopelessness abounds. Hope-givers are few. And we ask God to send out “workers” because bringing hope to the hopeless takes work. It will require your time, energy, and, in some cases, your money.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16).