I am known by my friends and family as someone who obsessively follows instructions. When I make my family favorite, chicken pesto pasta, which I have made at least a hundred times, I still open the recipe and measure every ingredient carefully. When I get furniture from IKEA, the first thing I do is open up the instructions and read them all the way through. Maybe that is why I love building Lego sets. You have a clear set of instructions, even complete with pictures, for every step along the way.
So, when it comes to interpreting the Bible and Jesus’ teachings, I often find myself searching for instructions, trying to find the “right” answer or some clear indication of exactly what I am supposed to do to put that scripture into action. But, as most of you know, that can be a tricky thing to find. It seems every denomination, sub-denomination, and non-denomination has their own interpretation of what Christ actually wants when it comes to most things. I have found, however, that there are a few times when Jesus gives us perfectly clear instructions. One example can be found in Luke 3:10-11: And the crowds asked him, “What, then, should we do?” In reply, he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none, and whoever has food must do likewise.”
Those might be the only two verses in the Bible that aren’t up for debate. It is as clear as day – share your clothes, share your food. In his letter to the twelve tribes, James says (2:14-17), What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Surely that faith cannot save, can it? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So, faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
What good are we, as Christians, if we don’t take care of our neighbors and our community? Yes, we are commanded to worship God, and all we really need to do to get into heaven is to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, but what about the rest of our time here?
I had the distinct pleasure on Monday and Tuesday of this week of helping out with our church’s food pantry. While I was loading boxes of chicken into a freezer, I kept thinking, “These people are following Jesus’ instructions to a T.” They are up at the church early every Monday and Tuesday working hard to make sure that 200-250 families get enough to eat this week. And most of the time, it is run entirely by retirees. People who could be sitting at home enjoying the years of rest that they have earned after working their entire lives, but instead they dedicate that free time to serving others. Not to mention, four high school students spent their first week of summer break volunteering to help as well.
To be clear, I didn’t come here to brag about how great our food pantry is, though I do believe that they deserve all the praise we can throw at them. Rather, I think they are a clear example of exactly what following Jesus’ instructions looks like in action. I encourage you to think and pray this week about how you can put Jesus’ words into action in your daily life. And if you happen to be free on Monday or Tuesday morning, I know a great place to start!
In Christ’s Love,
Minister Logan J. Smith