I was studying about when Jesus ate with Levi and his friends. The religious leaders looked down their noses at that. They asked, “Why does he eat with sinners?” Jesus’s reply was that he came for the sick, not the healthy. Matthew records something else he said to religious leaders:
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
He repeats the phrase later when some other Pharisees ask why his disciples are eating wheat kernels in a field on the Sabbath. I wondered to myself what people’s church services look like. Are they going through the motions? What do the other six days look like?
I work with a guy in the homeless ministry who always wants to help in some form or fashion. I have yet to figure out why our lives have intersected. The first time he offered to help the cleaning team, my first inclination was to assure him we had it covered. Earlier, he had wanted to help except we had finished at that point, so I said, ‘We got it.’ He looked like he was the last kid picked for a team. I always answer yes if I can now.
Later, one of our new temporary employees introduced himself. I learned that his roommate was Aaron, a guy I befriended and helped. It created a chain reaction from the first time I represented Jesus to him. He hadn’t forgotten me and told his friend.
One of the deaf church ladies who had been too sick to come to church was moving, her best friend from in the church put together a dinner for her. Ten people showed up to send her off, and although we hadn’t seen her in years, she cried when she saw the group.
That night at Deaf Den, one of our interpreter’s best friend threw a surprise party. We gathered to sing Happy Birthday in ASL. It brought happy tears to her eyes.
Before Deaf Den started that night, I was sitting at a table looking at my phone. For some reason, I started to feel sad. Then I was irritated minutes later. It was very confusing.
Then one of the teenagers came in chattering nonstop. It raised my spirits. I looked down the hall to see one of my friends greeting the next cycle of GriefShare attendees. I went to see who returned, smiling at a few familiar faces, and spoke with my friend, Daisy. It lifted my spirits even more. The ripples that people make in different situations always amaze me.
It is easy to be wrapped up in the motions. Even when you’re doing good, you can still forget why. We can sing the loudest, fill a binder full of notes, and even plaster a fake smile on our face as we help others.
Sometimes we have to do that to get out of our heads. However, Jesus wants our hearts to be in it, it’s not about going through the motions. He wants us to have a relationship with him. From that, we can put our hearts into it.
Why do you help people?