As we gathered recently on a Wednesday night in a home, I took note of the dynamic that was taking place in our developing culture. The evening started with a meal and eventually we gathered in the living room. This was the mid-week expression of our church plant, now almost 9 months old.
I looked around and there were plenty of “church” folks, but there were some that were not. We’ve been intentional about serving in the community and some of the result of that service has been that members of the community have joined us. Some of those that we had met in the service were struggling or alone and now they are connected and contributing. What I noticed, however, is that nobody had noticed. I noticed:
- We don’t celebrate the presence of people as identified by their struggles
- They are treated as people and not projects
- Their presence is natural and organic, not programmatic
- They are a life, not a statistic
It’s great to see victory in people’s lives but if we celebrate that victory by constantly pointing out the previous defeat, the labels are inevitable. None of us want to be introduced or thought of as, “this is Scott, he used to drink too much but, praise God, now he is better since we helped him! We have been able to help people like Scott all over this town. Isn’t God and this town lucky for our involvement?”
Some of the most valuable relationships I have ever had have been with disenfranchised people. I see Jesus in them and benefit from His promise of being in the broken. Whatever I have offered in return is small compared to what He has done in me through them.
Relationship offers and receives. It is a two-way flow of benefit were we are fortunate that we get to experience the other person in all of their good, bad and ugly just like they get to experience ours. Iron sharpens iron and we leave each other better than before. Relationship is fostered in an environment of mutual honor where the value of each individual is on display no matter their previous or current struggles.