the most excellent way…
As we sat in a McDonald’s booth in Clarksville, TN reflecting on our youth trip to Nashville’s Bridge Ministry under the Jefferson Street Bridge, I was moved by the words of a wonderful 16 year old. He spoke about how much we have even when we don’t think we do and then he talked about the bike give-away. Each guest (homeless or down-on-their-luck person served) was given a ticket. At the end of the meal & worship service, three gifts were given away- a sleeping bag, a cooler, & a bike. The guest who won the bike screamed, jumped up, and hugged the ticket people. Talk about being moved to humility! The young man said most 16 year olds would blow off the gift of a bike but to that woman it was really something to value. His reflection is what the trip is about. In serving others in love, our perspective is changed.
A couple days ago, I listened to Kyle Idleman speak about happiness (“You deserve to be happy”, May 23, 2015, Southeast Christian Church). He shared how even secular researchers have found people who focus only on their own happiness don’t find it. The more people run after satisfying themselves the unhappier they become. Yet when people serve others, they become happier. He said it’s like we were wired that way. When we walked away from the bridge, I knew exactly what he was talking about.
After chairs were set up and we waited for the start time to arrive, my attention was grabbed by the words on the back of a t-shirt:
“The church has left the building.”
Yes, it was Nashville and the words had a little Elvis flair… but isn’t that exactly how Jesus worked in his ministry! He went out to the people and met their physical needs then shared the truths of God. Isn’t that how we as a church should work today? So why do so many of us think church happens only inside the walls of a building?
The time to start finally came and there right in the middle of the evening sitting on folding chairs with the guests came the highlight of the night- the worship service. O, how sweet the Presence of God was under that bridge with Jesus followers from every walk of life. One gentleman stepped up to the mic to sing ‘Precious Lord’… wow! I got a little taste of the worship in heaven that has me hungering for more! Glory! My heart is still singing with joy over a God who loves every one of us so thoroughly!
When Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 was describing the body of Christ and the gifts of the Spirit, he ended the chapter with the words-
“And now I will show you the most excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31
And he launched into 1 Corinthians 13- the love chapter. The best… the most excellent way we can be the church of God in this world is to love people… i.e., serving all people in love. The people at The Bridge Ministry demonstrate this principle so very well!
Let me close by encouraging my fellow brothers and sisters to find such a ministry and volunteer. The Bridge Ministry operates every Tuesday night at 5:30 in Nashville (bridgeministry.org) but there are many other opportunities. If you are in my area, Breaking Bread hosts guests every 3rd Saturday in Madisonville. Then there are various food banks and rescue missions that would love volunteers. Believe me, if you want to be encouraged, uplifted, and made happy then find someone to serve in love.
Thank you, Jesus, for the privilege of serving your guests last night. Amen!