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For Others or With Others?

Was Jesus a man for others or with others? Allow me to explain. In this day and age, it seems as if it’s all about seeking the rights of others and speaking your peace about what is wrong with them but Jesus demonstrated numerous times what is most important. When a leper approached him, he did not run away and then speak about the rights of lepers. He went up to the leper and touched him, something that was strictly prohibited. He did not rail about the rights of the lepers, he became an advocate by making them feel important and wanted.

Sister Teresa demonstrated the same approach when it came to loving and ministering to other people. She lived with and adopted the same circumstances as the people she served. She never felt above them and wanted them to know someone cared. One time she came to the US to give a couple of speeches. She was here for 10 days and never had anything to eat. She simply drank water to keep her strength. Why? She wanted to feel the same as those she was here to serve who went many days without food. She slept on the floor and got up each morning at 4 am to pray for 4 hours before helping the poor. She asked those who wanted to help to also get up at 4 am and go visit with the homeless in their city.

Jesus didn’t always have the “right” stand on issues, but he surely took the right place with those considered outcasts. He was one who lived what he spoke.

I often reference Gregory Boyle and his book, Tattoos of the Heart, because he has so many poignant word pictures for many of the concepts I share in this blog.   The excerpt below is how I think Jesus would teach through example today.

“The church that Greg pastored was one that allowed the homeless to sleep in during the evening. They tended to leave behind an aroma of their homelessness. So some of the parishioners would sprinkle I Love My Carpet on the rugs and vacuum like crazy. They would strategically place potpourri and Air Wick around the church to combat this lingering, pervasive reminder that nearly fifty men had spent the night there.

Try as they might, the smell remained. The grumbling would set in, and people spoke of “churching” elsewhere. About this time a man drove up in a fancy car and told Greg that he had been baptized in the church and made his first communion there. He explained that he was poor then but now he had “made it”.

He takes in the scene around the church with the gang members gathered, homeless men and women being fed in great numbers in the parking lot. It is a who’s who of gang members, drug addicts, homeless, undocumented. The man sees all of this and shakes his head in disgust. He makes a disparaging comment and rides off.

The smell in the church is never overwhelming, just undeniably there. So Greg one day opens his sermon with, “What’s the church smell like?”

People are mortified, eye contact ceases, women are searching inside their purses for they know not what.

One parishioner says it smells like feet. He was old and didn’t care what people thought.

Greg says, “Why does it smell like feet?”

“Because homeless people sleep here at night.” Chimed one woman.

“Well why do we let that happen here?”

“It’s what we’ve committed to do, “ says another.

“Well why would anyone commit to do that”

“It’s what Jesus would do.”

One man stands up and says, “It smells like commitment”.

The entire congregation cheers.

One Spanish woman yells out, “Huele a rosas” (smells like roses).

The packed church roars with laughter and a newfound kinship that embraced someone else’s odor as their own.”

Like the Beatitudes, we need to know where to stand and to become part of the problem by being with others rather than just for them. It takes commitment, time, sacrifice and brings with it a warm place in our heart…Isn’t that what Jesus came to show us?

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joe-sturnioloBy Joe Sturniolo
Christian Family Legacy and Wealth Planning
Joe believes that stronger families are the vehicle God uses to bring about significant impact for His Kingdom.

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