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  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

"The Power of Compassion: How the Church Fosters a Community that Cares"



A group of people caring for one another

        

 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

 

         The church has been blessed, but those blessings must spread outside its walls. Churches have ministries in their neighborhoods. As believers, we share our lives eagerly. The following is an example of a practical application. Megan was an effective advocate for the poor and marginalized. Her life's purpose was to use your influence as a writer to bring awareness to those whose lives are hard and often go unnoticed. Despite her posh surroundings, she did not do this solely from her lofty position. Her policy was to welcome those without refuge if there was space available. On one occasion, two women showed up at the door asking for a place to stay. Megan told the women, “You can see we have no room.” The women left dejectedly, but a few days later, one returned, prompting Megan to ask, “What happened to your friend? It was revealed that she had passed away on the streets just a few days ago. In a state of despair, she threw herself under a train." Megan's words struck her deeply enough that she immediately spent all of her personal funds intended for her rent and needs, walked down the street, and leased an apartment. As a result, the first companionship house was established. After seeing Christ in the eyes of the poor, she realized she was responsible for building God's kingdom in the world.

 


People heading to Church

The People of God

            She is an exceptional example of another aspect of the Christian life: stewardship. According to St. Paul, the Christian community at Corinth is the church. Jesus is the foundation from which all grace flows; he is where all grace originates. We determine how the congregations use God's gifts to serve their communities or what ministries we focus on to meet the needs of our community based on the foundation provided by God's Son. Further, as Paul tells, each builder must choose how to construct the church, but the foundation is common. 

            Paul goes further, however, and tells us that the through the Holy Spirit, the church has been made a community. The Spirit enters the church through preaching and teaching of God’s Word and Sacraments and the life experiences of the members and transforms it from individuals into a community of faith. Thus, the community becomes primary; individuals are secondary. Today, we would say there is a need to work for the common good; individual efforts must be directed toward the benefit of all.

            Jesus provides a new insight of church when the Lord drives the moneychangers and merchants from the temple. The ruling elite had turned the sacrifices into a business- establishing a distracting market in the temple courts and charging exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals. Jesus wanted to remind them and us that this shift was overshadowing the everyday people. It was taking the focus off the fact that through the sacrifices God had provided, to point to His one sacrifice on the cross to take away our sins and God’s punishment.

         Jesus points the church back to the idea of a community redeemed by His sacrifice on the cross and now meets the needs of others. It gives us a reason to pause and ask if our congregation has been hoarding the blessings of God for our own enjoyment without considering how we could use our talents and treasures to serve the people in our community better?

         Just as the death of that woman moved Megan to take desperate action to help the impoverished in her neighborhood, knowing the people who are living and dying without Jesus Christ in the neighborhoods around our church should move us to consider how we can reach out to our neighbors with the Gospel and deeds of Christian love and sacrifice. How will you use your God-given gifts and talents to help your community of faith reach out with love to those in your community?

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