preacherman

Friday, April 25, 2008

Picking and Choosing To Whom We Show God's Grace

I wasn't feeling good at all today, but I had a situation which made me feel even worse.

There was a woman who was asking for help with a payment on her car. She works 2 jobs in 2 different towns and needs her car for work. She is newly divorced and her ex-husband has not given her the child support he owes. He is witholding the $4000, she thinks, to hurt her. Actually, he is hurting his children.

We are so small that we don't have elders, but instead appoint men to oversee certain areas. One man is in charge of the finances. I went to him on her behalf, but he refused to allow the church to help her. The reason he gave is that she was a divorced woman who chose to leave with her children and live with another man. Her story is that she is not living with him, but is only dating him.

I was really contemplating giving her money out of my own pocket in order to help her family because she had to call in work three days because she didn't have a car. I might still do it if I can find the money.

All this woman needed was $229 to get her car out and back. I had to go back and tell her, "No." She then told me that some of her friends said, "If you want help at any church, the Church of Christ is the one to go to."

I feel so embarassed because in the last two weeks, I put a huge ad in the local paper stating that we were a grace-oriented, non-denominational congregation,who loves God, and striving to be like Jesus. "God I repent of lying in that ad."

I believe if we are not known in the community for our graceousness, love of others, and forgiveness, then this church will end up dying. I love Jesus more than anything and I want us to be known as graceous and benevolent in this community. If you look at the ministry of Jesus, he met the physical needs first and then the spiritual needs. Our church can forget ministering to this woman and her children because they will not be coming to worship with us.

I had to look a woman who humbled herself to ask the church (I know from personal experience that you do have humble yourself uncomfortably when asking the church for help).


Shouldn't we as Christians and churches be known as benevolent? Should ministries imitate the ministry of Jesus? Will churches or those men who are tight with God's money suffer a worse judgment for being judgemental and not demonstrating the grace of God? What happens when a church isn't benevolent and graceous?


I know that people are busy, but are they too busy for what is important to God? Do we really want adulterers sitting in our building? Do we want liars and those who are addicted to porn? Do we want people who are poor to come? Is not the Church for "sinners"? Are we to pick and choose who we help?

I would have given the mother help, invited her to our church, and told her to leave her life of sin like Jesus did with the woman caught in the act of adultery. I believe there are more Churches of Christ who are willing and would much rather throw stones than to show the grace and love of God to a non-believer. Yes, this church does help believers, but we need to be graceous and benevolent to everyone and not pick and choose to whom we show God's grace and mercy. A church will never grow if it has prejudice, is non-benevolent and not helpful to those in the communities in which they live.


What do you think?
Share your thoughts.

49 Comments:

Blogger NaNcY said...

i am sorry that you could not go to her with what she asked for. maybe there are others in the church that would be willing to help out collectively if they only knew. maybe by you persisting and announcing the people in need on sunday...then they can have even more than they ask for...maybe even some clothes or toys for the children.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Mork said...

A Gift for us, no strings attached, that's what He did for us.

Thankyou for sharing so honestly, my heart was touched, my spirit grieved.

I thankyou Jesus for touching me - no strings attached, that while I was still dead in my sins - you made me alive - no strings attached.


Met the physical and then the spiritual, this is the Master's way.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Ryan said...

Preacherman,
The heart you have is so wonderful.
You are so much about doing ministry the way Jesus. The Church of Christ we are to pattern our live after Jesus or is is "just the parts in th gospels and Bible that we feel comfortable with and be the church Christ wants us to be."

9:12 AM  
Blogger Terry said...

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with a co-worker when I mentioned the word "church." She immediately said, "Don't tell me how great your church is. Everyone thinks their church is the best. I don't want to hear it." She did not even know what church I was a part of, but it did not matter. People have been burned by well-meaning Christians like myself who advertise our churches, but then the churches do not live up to the hype. I learned a powerful lesson that day: Unchurched people are not impressed with what we say about ourselves. We must live our message, and tell people about Christ rather than ourselves.

I feel so bad about how your church has disappointed you. Please don't give up on your people, though. Most Christians have hearts of compassion, but they do not know how to express it due to fear of what others would think about them. The man in control of the money may be afraid of appearing weak or morally compromising in helping a "sinner." Gently teach him, if possible, that Jesus was strong, morally uncompromising, and compassionate. Keep up your good work for the glory of God, brother!

10:04 AM  
Blogger Mork said...

Church Father Ignatius said, that if our church is not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed, and the hungry, then we are guilty of heresy-

Sorry about the 2 posts, I will withdraw and read ...
Shalom.

10:04 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

i want to encourage you to persist with your congregation and ASK them for a donations of money. and go to the women's group and ASK for them to come up with ways that they can help this mother and her children. that way the mother will become connected in human way with other women within the body.

come on, brother...you can do this.
there are people in your congregation that are ment to help this family.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous stan said...

I think the Church shouldn't pick and choose whom we show God's grace. He has blessed us, we should used it to help others.

10:32 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

the money does not have to come from the funds already in the man's hands....the funds can come from money that is still in the hands of the congregation. a special offering can be called for.

just ASK...they will be more than willing to give to help her and her children...you will see.

a special bucket for a special need.

:-)

10:35 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

she has come to you for help
and you have it upon your heart...

i know you can do this
because God will do it through you.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Jason Campbell said...

Wow, that is a tough and chewy situation. I'd have a hard time not starting a real fight over this situation. There are a lot of things that I'll swallow for the sake of peace, but this kind of thinking is the kind of thinking that kills churches and makes God angry. If you can't help her because you have nothing to give, then fine. But if you can but WON'T, then yikes.

10:37 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

i am praying.

God's glory will shine through!

10:40 AM  
Anonymous RogueMinister said...

I have to be honest this story hurts to hear and even more honest when I say it pisses me off.

I was fired from a Church last year in part because of some similar interactions with the poor and unwanted in the community.

It just seems so little like Jesus.

Thanks so much for your honesty. I always enjoy your blog, but cant usually comment because the comments page is often blocked since I am living in China right now. But thanks again, I love your heart as it is expressed in the words on this blog. Blessings!!!

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Stacie said...

Keep helping those in need Preacherman. You are my prayers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10:55 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Kinney,

I was especially intrigued by your paragraph that asked if we wanted adulterers, liars and those addicted to porn in our church buildings and pews. They are already there! Most people would be amazed at the number of sinners that attend church. Of course, it's easy to find an accurate number. Just pick up a bulletin and look at the record of attendance. That will give you an accurate number of the sinners that attended on any specific Sunday.
All of this is to point out that we condemn others for nailing Christ to the cross, while His blood is still dripping from our hands. We really need to be careful how we judge others. Of course, sometimes, we judge harshly because a certain sin hits close to home.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Todd said...

Stan,
I love your comments

7:13 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

hey! i will add to the bucket!
where do i send the cashola?!

8:52 PM  
Blogger preacherman said...

I am sorry about the conversation you had with the co-worker about church. The time is now to start showing God's love and grace ALL mindkind! Let get out of our comfort zones, get over the racism that people have, get over selfishness thinking to themselves this is can church do for me.

I tired of the exuses (What if people take advantage of the church? Their nothing but lazy deadbeats on welfare? Don't want to work? We have to be wise the Lord's money so we have "watchout" who we give it too?)

I sick of these exucsses. I tired of people just because they are in charge of the budget or just they might be in a powerful position hold on to the "LORD's money. The barry the talent. When GOd comes back will it be a beautiful bride or will she be brused, and battered? We need not pick and choose whom we show God's grace. We need to see souls and not people, souls who are lost that might need that one act for them to become a believer.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Arlene Kasselman said...

Kinney
praying blessing, health, courage, over you.
This story makes me sick. I am thankful for a man like you who can raise the issues and questions that others in your environment are not dealing with.

10:36 PM  
Blogger cwinwc said...

Churches should be instruments of grace, healing, and help. However, when it comes to the area of money and benevolence, we can get weird. I don't want to judge the brother who is in charge of your benevolence. It's a tough job.

I would just say that if we as churches are going to ere, then it should always be on the side of grace and mercy for goodness knows that we all need and pray that God will be the same with us.

God bless your heart and hang in there.

12:58 AM  
Blogger KM said...

here's where all our organizational bureaucracy should be mobilized to help: by directing the one guy (mr. ornery treasurer) to submit to the will of the collective (the board)... and if the board says no, then private donations it is.

i encountered a weird if slightly different situation like this recently: a church (not mine) joined with me to raise funds for a worthy foreign cause and we raised over 1K. when we stopped fundraising 2mths ago, i topped it off with my own pennies so they could send it out. until this friday, the treasurer dude was just sitting on it: always "next week, next week". no significant oversight until i whispered a word to the pastor. and i still feel bad i even had to do that... wasn't the imperative obvious enough?

we can talk about grace all day long, kinney, but i'm also beginning to think that in communities as large as most contemporary churches, grace can also be directed and organized. i think of how jesus sat down the 5,000+ in rows, broke the food up with his own hands, and then assigned the 12 to systematic distribution and clean-up! i'm not sure it should ever come down to one guy's whim to share the food or not -- not without collective approval. and if the collective makes that judgment call, they still need someone like you grace-driven enough to hold up a mirror to them and say "uh uh! still dirty!"

i can appreciate your frustration. as the others have said, harness that frustration so you can go on and get the lady the help she needs. you are still the Church, no matter what the church does or doesn't do.

peace, bro.

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful all Christians were more giving and genereous? Preacherman, you like challenging us don't you! I think in your ministry brother there will be more chance to made a differnce. Keep your, chin up!

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Yes, keep your passion and drive. You are a powerful and righteous man of God. God will use you in many ways. I agree with you Preacherman. May God help us to be more compassionate and put ourselves in their enviornment.

8:13 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

i am praying for your health this morning. rest in God...deep breath.

in God's Love
your sister in Christ

10:02 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Nancy,
Thank you for the prayers for my health I need extra strength today.

___________________________________

There have been many times we haved helped in many ways. I want to challenge each one of us stive in everything to know more and more each day.
Moses a faithful man desired to know God more and even his name. So, he tell him not just his name but his nature.
Exodus 34:5-6 "Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimied His name, the LORD. And He passed in front of Moses proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the campasssionate and graceous God, slow to anger abouting in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickness, rebellion and sin."
I want to be like my Father don't you?
This week I want everyone to look for a door of opportunity too meet someone elses needs. Help the poor. It may be giving a single mother diapers for her baby. It may be inviting your neighbor to church, taking a meal to a shut in...Countless ways we can make a differce and be more like our father!

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I think the issue really is "what is it to be a disciple"? Mork is right when he qoutes Ignatius.

We have to face the fact that Christianity is a messy thing. We will meet people in all the wrong life situations and are called to act as Jesus did.

Thanks for sharing this really pulled on my heart.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous steve v. said...

Good Morning,
Peace and grace from our Father.

Mike in his last comment touches on a very good issue. We will meet people in their dirty places, just as we were met in our dirty places. The attitude that some fall into is that we have to clean them up before we let them in or give them help. And it is at that point that we overstep our limits. WE cannot clean them, only the blood of Christ can do that. "While WE were still His enemies, CHRIST died for US..." Being diligent about the spending of a contribution is one thing, but placing conditions on the recepient prior to giving removes grace from the picture.

Maybe this man needs some "gentle instruction" (2 Tim 2:25) so that God may lead him to a better under standing.

And when you've done all you can to stand firm - STAND.

We love you brother and are praying for you and this money managing brother.

10:17 AM  
Blogger preacherman said...

Steve V.
Well put and said brother.
I hope you have a blessed day.

10:25 AM  
OpenID newheights said...

Preacherman,

I read this and meant to comment.

I hear your frustration. The sad thing is that you are not simply doing it for this woman. You are doing it for the mechanic and repair shop owner. Depending on the community size you are doing it for a large number of others.

We are saying something pretty powerful to them in those actions so maybe you just explain that it isn’t necessarily about helping this person but saying something to the community at large.

Obviously we have a ministry for this specific type of situation with money set aside to pay for repairs so I’m not sure what I would do otherwise. I just spoke with a woman who we had agreed to help who after talking with the repair shop actually was able to get what she needed done with the help of a neighbor. Kind of a win/win since we offered in the name of Jesus but didn’t actually have to spend a dime.

Maybe God even healed her car. I don’t know but we will never know if we don’t make ourselves vulnerable. If God waited for us to get cleaned up to help us we would all be in a world of hurt.

I will pray for the situation.

Darin

11:01 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

This is a powerful post, and I admire your courage in posting it.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Shane Coffman said...

I love the things that your heart gets passionate about, Kinney.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Kansas Bob said...

A great post Kinney.. a thoughtful blend of frustration and grace.. thank you for giving us a picture into your wonderful heart.

I echo what Mork said in his firt comment - gifts have no strings attached.. just ribbons and bows :)

1:18 PM  
OpenID masterdesigned said...

This hits very close to home in my life - my husband of 20+ years walked out on our family and I was left taking care of our two children that he simply abandoned. Yes, I had a decree stating what he was to pay, but when he refused, it's more prolonged legal process and expense that one already does not have. Had it not been for my faith community, I would not be where I am today - one child about to graduate from college, the 2nd halfway through college.

My heart breaks for this mother trying to care for her children. But I am more heartbroken over the refusal of those God entrusted to be His servants. And we wonder why the world turns its back on God?!? Jesus entrusted each of us to be His hands and feet.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Brian Bowen said...

The first thoughts that came to my mind were the same as Steve V's so no need to repeat that.

And speaking as someone who ministries in a community of messed up people... its much easier to SAY... we should be a church full of drug users and prostitutes... than it is to actually do. Church for Christians is sooo much easier.

The thing is, we were never promised easy were we?

And NewHeights... THAT my friend is a great thing to bring up. By touching this lady with the love of Christ, everyone in her circle gets touched as she shares the story of how the church helped.

KM... I think I get what your saying about community making the decision. I kinda agree kinda dont. I mean, if your talking, appointing some sort of oversite board, I can see that. But I still believe the Pastor as the God ordained and appointed leader of the congregation should have the final say. But if you are saying, the entire community should be involved in the decision making... I dont see it. I mean if the hebrews voted to continue on in the desert or return to Eqypt, they would have returned to Eqypt.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
Yes, I share your grief.

We need to be generous yet wise. To help others involves handouts but also challenging them to commitment long term, to help them in their financial woes.

This is off the top of my head, but I think while we need to be generous, we need to work at helping them in a holistic way. And if they're not open to that, then we need to be careful just what we do to help, though we should extend Christ's love in practical ways. Involves community effort and giftedness and ideas God puts on people's hearts in the church.

Again, a scattered and disheveled thought. One can be burned by people who used others and churches. We have to learn to be wise. But this is known by you, I'm sure. Just giving my thoughts here.

7:28 PM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

i have been thinking more about this woman, her husband that left, and their children. they are in great need of connection with people of God and they are in greater need of prayer.

i do not know the answers of how to help them financially or with any of their physical needs. but, i am very certain that we all should be in prayer for them and others that God brings to our attention. God might of used the money issue to bring her to you, but, God wants to bring her to Him and...well...just sayin'...we are God's people. what does God want for us to do? share his Love, pray, relationship. i think God is pointing His finger at this family and saying...this one...over there...go.

what do you think?

this has been on my heart and mind.

as usual it takes time for God to get through my thoughts to tell me His.

10:00 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

they can be prayed for and brought into God's Love through us.

the money will come if that is what God wants for them...but, they must be brought into God's Love for them through the body of Christ.

10:04 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

Love can not reach them without God's people extending the Love.

Love must be used and shared and active...or else it is dead and not flowing...it is still and useless if not shared.

10:07 AM  
Blogger NaNcY said...

ok that is all for now

love to you and your family ,kinney

10:07 AM  
Blogger Cheryl Russell said...

Hello Preacherman. I share your frustration, anger, and shame about his situation. I am sorry that you had to go back to that woman and tell her that the love, grace, and mercy of God are limited. God blesses us to be a blessing to others. I will be praying for the "deacon of benevolence" and I hope he is living by the LETTER of the LAW, since that is he how he seems to be judging others. Does this woman still need help? If so, please let me know. I know some sinners who would be happy to share with another sinner. Sorry for the angry message, but this makes me angry. I am tired of the US and THEM mentality that exists among Christians. In truth, it's ALL OF US and JESUS!

10:51 AM  
Blogger Cheryl Russell said...

Sorry about the emotion in the last comment, just hits very close to home right now as I have a family member who has gone through that.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Chad Matthews said...

Heartbreaking.

Lately I've been struggling with the fact that churches continue to grow in building size and mass. New marble floors are put in, fountains installed in foyers, and $5000 projectors are purchased to enhance the sermons on sunday morning.

All this while need exist all around us. I've been asking myself, should the church be doing these things?

What if the church is the rich man in Mark 10:17? What if Jesus asked the church to sell all it has and give to the poor?

What would the church say? Is it right that we must neglect the needs of the people because our building payment is due?

These are questions that I've been asking myself, and others.

I appreciate your post. Great stuff

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