Feed My Sheep

Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”[1]

People asking for money are a part of my life. But a number of the people coming to my office door leave empty-handed. By the location of my office in a church everyone seems to expect a hand-out. I can tell you I’ve been yelled at, called names as some walked away from my office empty handed. Now I feel you must know the rest of the story. My office sits a few miles from Virginia’s only horse racing track.[2] Despite the growth in popularity of off-track parlors, people continue to flock to the track to place bets on the horses. In need of more money to support their gambling habit, they come to me looking for money. They really stand out. The reason they are so obvious is because I get more of these “walk-in” requests when the track is open. Long ago I caught on. Their disappointment is only exceeded by the stories they will tell me before they walk away. One once yelled at me, “Wait until I tell Rev. Brown about you and your church! He said you were a good man, and he was sure you would help me! Rev. Brown is going to hear about this!” Nice try, but I don’t know a Rev. Brown. I can justify my behavior in so many ways, and especially by today’s verse. But, this verse does not apply to all such situations.

Paul’s words, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat,” to the church in Thessalonica have been perverted by our culture. This passage has been twisted to promote “prosperity gospel.” You may hear, “If you’re not willing to work for your success, you don’t deserve it anyway.”[3] The unacceptable upshot is, “If you work for success, you deserve it all.” That’s not what Paul is saying. In another of today’s situations, this exact verse has been used by a politician as justification for ignoring the poor.[4] That’s not what Paul is saying. What is Paul saying? Paul was calling out the idle people of the church. That’s it! Now, idle Christians are still with us, along with the age old problem of feeding the poor.  To this point, it’s hard for our Christian community to have much of an outreach to the poor when its own people are doing nothing but consuming the monies.

I do have a Christian responsibility to prayerfully discern my response to the needs of those who come to my door. We all have that responsibility. And our response to help is a God given privilege to counter the culture of prosperity. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”[5]

 

[1] 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (The Message)

[2] http://www.colonialdowns.com/

[3] http://mirituition.com/http:/gceoschool.com/quotes/

[4] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/05/23/2053081/congressmans-misuse-of-bible-verse-belies-bad-theology-and-ideology-on-food-stamps/

[5] John 21:7 (The Message)

About Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Hodges is an ordained minister, pastoring a church in central Virginia.
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