I have been thrown into a new perspective in my life. Last week in chapel was a remarkable one. I only go 3 days a week, but due to Labor Day, I only had 2 chapels last week. They were probably the most life changing chapels I’ve attended. I would like to give you a brief synopsis of what I experienced.
Wednesday of last week was a part of Spiritual Emphasis week on campus. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were dedicated to this. The speaker for those chapels was Pastor Scotty Gibbons from James River Assembly. He is definitely gifted and God has blessed him with speaking abilities and a very loving heart. Wednesday was over Ephesians 4:1-6. He focused more on verse 2 than any of these. Ephesians 4:1-2 says “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.” He related this to the church as this is what we are to be. Paul was writing to the church of Ephesus to be these things. While after these verses, Paul continues to talk about unity of the believers. Verse 3-6 say “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is on body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
As I said earlier, Scotty focused on verse 2. He was trying to point out that we must be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. This passage talks about unity of the believers and Scotty stressed how much we need to do the things in verse 2. I need help with all of them, especially the “bearing with one another in love.” I’ll explain what I mean. Attending North Point for 5 years and counting has been a wonderful 5 years. I have grown and learned so much as far what it means to be Jesus in a community. I have been a youth leader nearly that whole time and it has grown me quite considerably. No wonder our pastor focuses so much on serving, as we put action to our words. But I have seen a lot of churches who focus so much on the “depth” of their message that they have forgotten what it means to be Jesus to a community who needs them. North Point is not that. Now I attend Central Bible College, an Assemblies of God college for ministry. Going into this school was a big shock. The culture here is nothing like North Point, as the chapels are quite conservative. North Point has a rockin’ band and isn’t quite as conservative. This is a clash of epic proportions in my mind. A lot of bitterness has come up in the few years due to this seeming contradiction. We’ve had youth leaders from that school who, in my mind, weren’t there to serve but just get their ministry credit. This led to the event in my heart and mind that happened Wednesday morning.
At the end of his message, Scotty talked about how we mustn’t fuss and fight about how we do church. We shouldn’t hate a church because their worship is boring, or they wear a suit to church and your church doesn’t. That isn’t the point. We must “bear with one another in love”. BAM! That was a knock on the head for sure. My biggest issues have been me not liking the style of certain churches and holding that against them. Terrible for sure and God definitely spoke to me in a major way. Since that chapel, my heart has been changed and I’ve felt a release that was much needed.
Enter Friday chapel.
As I sat in my normal seat, I watched as people came in, talking to friends and preparing for chapel to start. Right as chapel was going to start, 2 of the guys brought in a homeless guy from outside. I was super excited, as I was seeing love first hand. These guys invited him into chapel, and probably would have got him lunch had this next part not happened. Once worship was over, our campus Pastor came up to introduce the speaker.
“Our speaker is running late, so we would like to bring a couple of you up to give testimonies about how God has been working this week.”
2 students go up there, share some cool stuff, then they sat down. That’s when the homeless man spoke up.
“Pastor can I give a testimony?”
“Uh…” Pastor looks around nervously and hesitates…finally he says, “yeah come on up.”
The homeless man walks up there with his backpack. Once he reaches the stage, he reaches into his pack, pulling out what looks like a book.
“Can I see what you are pulling out of your bag,” says a nervous Pastor Baker.
“It’s not a pistol, it’s an iPad,” replies the man.
In my mind I was wondering what a homeless man was doing with an iPad. Then it dawned on me that this was no homeless man.
This “homeless man” was Malcolm Burleigh, director of Intercultural Ministries for the US Missions department of the Assemblies of God. He began by praising the guys who brought him in, thinking he was homeless. Then he began to tell us how several people had noticed him but didn’t say anything. I wasn’t one of them, as I didn’t see him on my way in to chapel. But the question in my mind was this: “Would I have passed by him without even saying anything and just basically ignored him?” Obviously this was not a question I could really answer, but I had a sneaking suspicion that I would have just continued on my way without even speaking to him, even avoiding him. Is this what Jesus would have wanted me to do? I think not…in fact he would have wanted to me to hold a conversation with him, invite him in to chapel, then took him out to lunch afterwards. Wow. How far from the heart of God am I?
Now I know that there is grace and that God knows my heart and how imperfect I am. He knows I’ll make mistakes and that He is still eaching me a lot about what it means to follow Him. This was my lesson in what it means to follow Him, so what will my response be? What would be your response in that situation? Would you strike up conversation and invite him in with you? Would you bring him lunch? How do we show God’s love to people?