In the life of a Pastor his day begins with prayer. Prayer for the Church that God has entrusted to his care. Prayer for its members. Prayer for its growth. Prayer that we can be the Light of the world that our Lord wants us to be. That we will do some good this week, and that others will come into a saving relational knowledge with Christ Jesus our Lord.
As the day progresses, the Pastor gets calls. People call the Church. People call his cell phone. “I need help this month. I can’t pay my electric bill. I can’t pay my rent. My utilities have been cut off.” For the household of faith the answer is simple. If you are a partner in faith with us, a part of our local Church, we will take up an offering for you and yours. I usually have a deacon stand at the door and ask the Church to give. Our local Church – like most local Churches – is generous beyond imagination. There has never been a time when a partner in our Church was struggling where financial help has not been offered. This Church is filled with people who love one another, and I am so blessed to be their Pastor. We take care of one another, just as we should. In the New Testament Church ……
Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
they showed that type of unity, and I see it frequently in our local Church. Sadly, though, the many calls I receive during the week are not from Church members. “I need help this month. I can’t pay my electric bill. I can’t pay my rent. My utilities have been cut off.” I am asked for funds. I reply, “Where do you participate in Church? Who is your Pastor?” They return, “Oh, I don’t go to Church. I love Jesus (they always love Jesus) but don’t have to go to Church to love Jesus. I just need some money, some help with my finances this month.”
And I have to say “No, I’m sorry, we don’t do that.”
I wish I didn’t have to say no. I wish I were a millionaire. If I had Bill Gates money I would help every poor person in Columbia Tennessee, and I’d pay every overdue utility and rent. I hate having to say no. But having said all this, IF I had the money, and IF I paid every person’s bills, I suspect that I would be outside of the will of God. The Bible says:
2 Thessalonians 3:10-13 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
Most of those who do not have the money will not work. They make excuses. They live on government welfare. They make bad decisions. I’ve seen “poor people” in line in front of me at the local Wal Mart. The man was robust, in perfect health. The woman he was with was comfortably dressed. They buy groceries with food stamps (or the EBT card, the modern version of it), and after buying groceries get a case of beer and a 50$ carton of cigarettes. Many poor are poor because they will not work. While others work, they want to be supported. The Bible frowns on that.
It is lazy to call a Pastor on Monday morning or Sunday afternoon saying, “I need help with …” when you should have at LEAST been in Church. Get out of bed. Come to the Church. True story: I had someone blast me because our Church was not helping “it’s own members”. When I asked who these people were and they told me their names, I replied “WHO ARE THEY?” I had been Pastor of the Church for 6 months and they had never darkened the door of the Church nor ever attempted to call me on the phone. If there was a police line up, I couldn’t have picked them out. GET OFF YOUR BEHIND AND GET TO THE CHURCH.
I have had people call and, when I said we cannot help, they replied “But isn’t that what the Church is for?” No, it’s not. You will find no instance in the Scripture where Jesus Christ paid anyone’s utility bill. You will find no instance where Jesus fed anyone who was not under the sound of His preaching. You will find no place where Jesus provided clothing or shelter for anyone. When Jesus fed the 5000, it was at the end of a day of preaching. Get to Church.
The Church is a family of God. It is a place where God’s Children gather to care for one another, to feed on God’s Word, and to worship the Lord. In these latter days we all need all the family we can get. Get into a Church. Become NOT a member, but a PARTNER with a household of faith. Help others as others help you. Work together. Don’t lay out of Church for years then, when you’ve made bad decision after bad decision, your power is cut off, call the Pastor and demand funds. We are not a welfare station. We are God’s Church. We are called out of this world by the Gospel of Christ. We love God, love one another, and would love to love you.
My calling as a Pastor is to point every person to Christ, to tell you that He must be Lord of your life if you want to be blessed. He is the Only Savior. If you have believed what Jesus said in John 14:6
… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
and have been born again by the power of God, my calling is to teach you to be more like Jesus. Every Christian is to be like Christ. This is what God has foreordained ….
Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
God wants you to be a Christian. If a Christian, He wants you to be like Christ. This is the thrust of my ministry, to bring you to Christ and, if you are saved by His Grace, to share His Word with you so that God can make you more Christlike. I wish you well, and pray for you, too. You need the Lord more than you need a rent check. You need the Lord more than you need your utility payment. Like the prodigal son, you need to understand that until you are in the hands of Christ your life will always be lacking. I cannot feed your habit by paying your bills. As Evangelist Vance Havner once said, if someone had given the prodigal son a sandwich he might never have gone home. You need to go home. To quit wandering. To give yourself to Jesus.
Do that, and come to Church next Sunday. Come up to me and introduce yourself as a Child of God. Partner with our local Church. Love God, love your Church family. And yes, then we’ll help, because you are our brother or sister in Christ!
I hope you understand.