Dr. RB McFee
16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
This scripture in Hebrews is a good reminder for what I think of as “applied Christianity.”
Put differently, it is important that we are active, not passive Christians.
Consider these actions….
Prayer is an important act. Just ask our highly engaged Prayer Warrior Team at CCUMC. And of course prayer is an important phone call to our Creator.
Prayer is a gift of love from those who care, to those who are cared about. People prayed for somehow know it, viscerally, spiritually. It is as if the Holy Spirit sends a soul text saying ‘someone just prayed for you, and I got the message.’
Doubt me? Just ask the people who have been prayed for.
Giving a ride, taking a shut in or someone who can’t drive to shop or hair salon or doctor visit is “applied Christianity. Find a need and help fill it, even for just a day.
Then there are the casseroles.
Now you might be wondering what do casseroles have to do with “applied Christianity”
The other day I was having dinner with some friends. As people of faith we were talking about our respective churches, how we came to attend where we worship, and similar.
One of my friends then shared what the minister asked when she and her family were officially welcomed into the church family….most of which are similarly asked of Christians pretty much across denominations, except the last question “can you make a casserole?”
Have you ever been asked “can you make a casserole” with the welcome handshake?
The minister went on to say “we are a casserole making church, because you never know who will need a visit and a meal.”
But the question goes deeper; it suggests the congregation is aware of the well-being and needs of members, neighbors, those around them…..”Applied Christianity.”
And there are other ways to practice “applied Christianity.” Consider….
This afternoon I was listening to KLOVE – a Christian radio station that intersperses beautiful music with scripture, and inspirational stories. Sometimes a DJ will spontaneously offer a prayer based on a caller who shares a challenge, so that even the radio audience can raise our voice in petition for that person.
I enjoy listening because it is in many ways an airwaves church or community where people – clergy, Christian artists, DJs and callers share their faith journeys. Well worth tuning in (95.5 or 107.3 on FM in Worcester/Boston areas).
Today the DJs talked about “MAD” Monday, “MAD” referring to “Make A Difference.” In keeping with the spirit of “MAD” the DJs invite callers into sharing different ways they are trying to make a difference for someone – often it involves fledgling community programs, participation in existing outreach, or random acts of kindness.
If we played a game where you had to name the first person, or group, outreach program or cause that comes to mind that you think needs help, what would it be? Can that answer lead you to a “MAD” activity?
Maybe a shut in came to mind. Could you bring over a meal?
Maybe the homeless outreach ministry CCUMC is part of came to mind. How can you contribute to it?
Maybe your thoughts went to a veteran on a street corner seeking some spare change? How could you make a difference in his or her day, or life?
Maybe you saw something at church that needs fixing, or perhaps something could enhance the facility in some way. How can you bring that about?
Maybe the Holy Spirit has put an idea on your mind and heart? How can you take it and run with it?
Here are some of the “MAD” activities that folks shared with the DJs….
One caller paid for gas for a stranger who was struggling financially. Others bought food, or did other good works to brighten the day of another person. Generosity is at the heart of our faith, and brings us closer to God
One of the DJs then shared an important insight – generosity cleanses the heart. Then he quoted CS Lewis “Christianity is a kind of giving; God poured out His generosity to you in Jesus and we are called to be generous to others.”
Stories of generosity underscore who we are called to be as believers, and indicate how we reflect Jesus’ generous love to a world in need of it, perhaps now more than ever.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give is forgiveness. It is at the heart of the Cross. It is the foundation of true love. It is a gift in short supply in our ever increasingly polarized world. Forgiveness is the bridge to understanding, tolerance, coexistence and true community.
And Christians are all about community.
Speaking of which – how did Christians change perceptions of who they were to citizens of the Roman Empire, and reveal the true character of Jesus’ followers in first century Rome?
Simply put, one big way was in helping the people that society ignored. By being “MAD” with generosity, compassion, and kindness these early Christians rescued abandoned children and cared for the ignored elderly, sick, weak, poor.
“Applied Christianity” distinguished Jesus’ followers from non believers.
How do we distinguish ourselves today? What needs can we fill in Charlton, in Worcester County that are unmet, or under addressed? Where can we share a little “applied Christianity” today? Where can we do one “MAD” random act of kindness?
My dad used to frequently share this quote in his various volunteer and teaching efforts along the way and it in many ways summarizes “applied Christianity” ….
“He who helps another feeds three – his lonely neighbor, himself and Thee.”
Put differently, through generosity we help others, we make the Lord happy, and there’s something powerfully transformational – an energy that infuses our spirit when we have made glad the lives of others.
The best part of our gift-ability is giving ourselves – a kind word, a smile, encouraging others, being present when someone needs the human touch.
So whatever day you read this…. Monday, Tuesday or whenever, consider making it a “MAD” day!
PS keep a diary of the “MAD” acts you do, and then look back and see how many people you have touched. And maybe we can even share these in the future. Email me.