Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Gospel or The Garbage Bags

Do you think Jesus ever got frustrated? Do you think he ever looked at the crowds or at his apostles and think "Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?!" Of course he did not but after my experience last Saturday I don't think I would blame him if he did.

As you may have read in my previous blog I help out with a parking lot ministry on Saturday mornings. A few friends and I show up around 7:00 am and set up our table with coffee, hot chocolate and donuts. Obviously this draws a small crowd. We have folks from the local homeless shelter wander up, we have the down and out who stay at the local rent-a-room house who show up and we have folks who live in the surrounding neighborhood show up. Some are looking for a free meal, some are looking for someone to talk to, and who knows what some are looking for. The one thing we have committed to do every Saturday is to preach the Word. A few minutes after 7:00 we gather the folks around and open God's word to share some spiritual food with them.

Getting back to last Saturday, it was my turn to "preach" so I prepared a brief message out of Matthew 7. As you might imagine the small crowd that gathers around can be easily distracted. We have men, women, teens and kids and we are outside in a parking lot so all it takes is a bird or a cat or a car with a loud stereo basting and you have lost them! The goal for me is to keep it short and stay focused on the verses at hand. Things started out ok Saturday morning. I read my verses and started sharing a few thoughts I had on the passage. About five minutes in a car drove into the parking lot. I noticed it but did not pay much attention to it. As the car turned around in the parking lot the door opened at the occupants tossed out a few garbage bags filled with used clothes. They closed the door and drove away. Some movement caught my attention and I realized that several people left our group and ran to the bags to see what was inside. They ripped open the bags and rummaged around for what was inside. A minute or two later they came walking back over with a used t-shirt or a worn out pair of khakis or who knows what else.

I finished my message without saying anything to them about what happened. However, my mind was racing. What the heck was that all about! I could have gotten upset but God used this to teach me a lesson. The verses that came to my mind was from John 6.
John 6: 25, 26 - 25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.
This is one of those time when I wonder if Jesus got frustrated with the crowd. They just don't seem to get it! Jesus is more than a free meal, he is more than free health care, he is the Savior for all mankind. Unfortunately another sobering passage came to mind as I sat back and thought about what happened.
Matthew 6: 28 - 33 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I am not trying to come across as holier-than-thou, I am simply sharing this so that you and I can examine our lives and see if we are running after trash bags filled with junk. It may be junk like a fat retirement account that keeps you from being generous or the pursuit of a big job title that costs you your family. In a few years we will all leave this life behind and all the stuff we think is important will be forgotten, even by those we leave behind. What will remain will be what we have done for the Kingdom.
II Corinthians 5: 10 - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Are we chasing after the Gospel or the garbage bags?


  1. "Aberrant behavior is produced by aberrant social conditions, malnutrition, minimum wage, lack of motivation, poor role models, and lack of relevant education. People always reflect the influences of environment. Even the wealthiest people today suffer from intellectual poverty. They too commit crimes such as exploitation of the environment and other human beings. We do not consider gambling casinos offensive today as a criminal institution, but in the future they will certainly be looked upon as part of our aberrant society along with thousands of other aberrant patterns we consider right and normal today."

    love, Humanity
    formally known as Glenn Poston

  2. Great post!

    I have been in similar circumstances where I felt my message was lost on the masses. I think it is both a humbling and growing experience. For it is during these times that we are made aware that presenting the gospel has nothing to do with us. Thus, if people reject it, or walk away- they are not rejecting, or walking away from us.

    Jesus encountered the same thing in John 6:65,66:

    65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
    66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.


  3. Mark,

    Thanks for you encouragement. John 6: 66 is one of my favorite verses because it helps me remember that I am not the Holy Spirit! If they walked away from Christ himself, they will surely walk away from what I am doing!