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Can This Truly Be Worship?

by Joyce Broyles

“Oh no, here comes another one,” I thought, as I shoved myself lower into my recliner. Through the front window I could see the young woman making her way toward our front door, cell phone to her ear. Ponytail swinging, she pushed the doorbell and ended her call.

Douglas went to answer the door. He stepped outside and bent toward her, listening to her story. This was the second person to come begging.

Last week, a young woman came to our door and asked Douglas if he could help her. Someone down the street had told her he was a minister. She needed ten dollars, she said, to pay for her motel room. Alone in a strange town, she had left home because of a bad situation. She had a job at the local Burger King and had to be at work at 4:00 the next morning. Douglas handed her the bill and she left.

The next afternoon, she was back. This time she needed twenty dollars for the motel room. She promised she would not come back as she took the bill Douglas handed her.

Only, she did come back.

After she had left the second time, I had suggested to Douglas that maybe God would see this as an opportunity to share the gospel with the young woman. The next time she comes, I suggested, invite her to the patio and ask her if she is a Christian, then invite her to worship. The church family might want to help her also.

Laughingly, I ended my contribution with a note that let him know I was not supportive of giving her money. I told him that our house would be marked like the hobos of old did, with a big X that meant “gives money here!”

When she arrived on the third afternoon, Douglas went outside to speak with her. This time she apologized for returning, but said she needed forty dollars for the room. Douglas asked her if she had tried to get help from other agencies for battered and abused women. She said she had not been abused. He suggested the Sheriff’s Indigent Fund, to which the churches donate. She said they would not help her because she had no local address. He told her sorrowfully that we could not help her anymore, but to try another agency.

On the fourth visit, she needed forty dollars again for her motel room. When Douglas said no, she said she would have to find a bridge to sleep under. My heart squeezed.

On the fifth visit, she asked for fifty dollars to pay rent on a small house she had found. When I asked what kind of house could be rented for that amount, she said it had been pro-rated to the end of the month, which was only six days. Again, Douglas explained that he had given her the money a friend had given him, and he had no more. As retirees, he explained, we live on a tight budget now.

So today, when another woman headed our way, I just knew she needed money also. However, when Douglas came inside, he said that this one just wanted to borrow the gasoline can. Her car was empty and she would walk the few blocks to get the gasoline and then would return the can.

“Whew!” I thought. “Maybe we’re clear.”

Then another thought came to my mind. Isaiah 58:6-7 “Is not this the fast [worship] that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and bring the poor that are cast out to your house? When you see the naked, cover him; and hide not yourself from your own flesh?”

Then I remembered Jesus telling in Matthew 25:34 about feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, taking in the stranger, giving clothing to the poor, caring for the sick, and visiting prisoners. He said the righteous would not remember doing such things, but when they did it, they were actually doing it for Him.

In effect, Jesus was validating what Isaiah had said years before. If we do these things with the right attitude, it can be worship to God. If we take care of small things, like starting where we are, being sympathetic, and caring like Jesus, we can take care of material needs and then take care of spiritual needs also.

This is what the church needs to remember. We are not evil, but do we love people and do good? This is the responsibility of the church today.

But hey. I’m a member of the church. If I understand that correctly, then this is my responsibility. Start where I am. Be sympathetic. Be caring. Meet material needs and then give spiritual help. Learn to love people and do good.

The next person to ring my door bell will have my attention. With God’s help, I’ll try to be sympathetic and caring. I’ll give what I am able to, and tell the Good News also. I’ll show love and take responsibility to do good. It may mean taking them to buy groceries, or taking them to the motel to pay for the room, or buying the gasoline for them rather than giving them cash, but it will be a start. And, if I do it in the right attitude, it will be my worship to God.

[The above was written several years ago, but is still very relevant due to the present financial crisis.]

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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13