I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea that God always protects His people. And in the words of Inago Montoya, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Because if God always protects his people in the way that we think it means, then why do Christians suffer?
One January morning I was driving to meet some women for prayer. I had already been wrestling in the Word and in prayer that morning over all the pain in this messed up world. The orphans, the exploited, the refugees in war-torn countries.
As I exited the highway and came to the stoplight, I saw a woman holding a sign. “Homeless and Hungry.”
I checked my purse for a pitiful offering. All I had was a dollar and a granola bar. I rolled down my window and apologized for the meagerness and I asked if I could pray for her.
“Please,” she said. She told me her name and I prayed. So pitiful.
All the way to my friend’s house, I cried. Why would God protect me and not her? In this January of uncertainty in our own lives, how could people promise that God would give us shelter? She and I are both created in the image of God. I am no better, no worse than she is.
As I drove away, she stood cold and holding a sign.
I felt anger as well. Where is the church?
Not a judgmentally, get-your-life-together church. But a church that embraces the messiness of us all and works to love well.
And when church is in-this-together, giving-to-those-in-need, grounded in the truth of the gospel, and the community of family, and the breaking of bread, and the praying with groans and tears … there will be no signs that say “Hungry and Homeless.”
And we’ll join together to shine the love of Christ into dark and broken places. We’ll be the protecting hands and feet of Christ. We’ll seek the wisdom and discernment and empowering by God, but won’t put expect that God protects without our participation. We’ll carry his presence into the world. We’ll be his ambassadors. We’ll bear his image. And rather than going to church, we’ll be the church.
But honestly, it starts with me. And it starts with you. Join me?