It seems that there are a number of Christians who have awesome hearts and a lot of love and think their highest calling is to show up for Church services, sing the songs, take the sacraments, read their Bible, and bring a prayer list to God on a regular basis. It also seems that there is some sort of unwritten rule that mission is done as group project and witnessing is telling others that Jesus wants them to come to Him and go to Church services, sing songs…well, you know the rest.
They are amazed and fascinated at ministries that feed the homeless or preach to inmates or have after school programs. They’re impressed by the people that give their lives to these big outreaches. These ministries are needed and they need help in the form of funds and volunteers. The Kingdom advances through these ministries.
I submit though that the impact of Christ and His Kingdom is stronger in the small touches we make as we move throughout each day. It’s the simple things we do that could and do make a difference in this world. Christ reveals His Love and Presence to others by showing His Grace through us. What we do is much louder than what we say. It can resonate deep within someone and echo in their souls.
I get to build kinship with a number of people that are ignored and on the margins of our little town because of our small ministry. However, some of the most precious moments for me are while I’m standing in the check out line at WalMart.
First one…I was behind a young mother and her baby and she was having a problem deciding what not to buy. She apparently did not have enough money and was short about $3.00. Her choices were either a gallon of milk or a carton of cigarettes.
I could have said, “You know, you need to put the cigarettes back and go ahead and get the milk.” I could have even gotten snotty about it. Instead, it seemed that maybe Jesus in me wanted to handle it differently so I said, “Excuse me, would you let me pay for the milk? That’s a good looking baby you have.”
She said said, “Sure.” And so I did. I asked her name and we talked for just a moment and as she walked away I said, “God Bless you.” I didn’t think being another poke-her-in-the-chest-and-tell-her-how-to-live Christian was needed right then.
We only have one Walmart in our town and everyone goes there constantly. I have had several opportunities to see her shopping and I always say hello. She smiles and says hello back and we talk for a little while. I always get to say “God Bless you” or “Jesus Loves you, you know.” She knows. We smile and say “See you later” and I look forward to the next time we meet.
I don’t know why she had a hard decision between milk and cigarettes. Maybe they weren’t for her. Maybe they were for someone who might have gotten angry if she came home without them. Maybe there might be bad consequences if she didn’t buy them. Maybe they were for her. I don’t know and for me it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we can now talk and we have started more than a relationship…it’s like a kinship and our Friend and Brother Jesus is in it.
Second story happened this week. I was in the check out line behind a grandmother and her 6 year old grandson. Same problem. More stuff in the buggy than money in the purse. This time cigarettes weren’t in the mix. It was a six pack of orange juice and a box of Apple Jacks cereal. The grandmother was handing them back to the cashier and I said, “Hang on. I think Jesus wants this young man to have those things. Would you let me get them for him?”
The grandmother looked startled and the young man looked happy. She smiled too and said, “Well if that’s what Jesus wants…” So I did.
By the way, there were others involved in these stories. The cashiers and anyone within several feet of us. For those that don’t know me I can be rather loud.
I wonder how everyone’s day went after that. Last Sunday someone in our Bible study said “Kindness is Contagious.”
Here’s a truth, more people don’t attend church in our little town than do. What we do outside that building for the Lord may be more important that what we do inside the building for ourselves. The challenge is to live intentionally alert to opportunities that reveal God’s Kindness. That’s what leads to changed lives. Make the little things count.