Last Saturday, Joy Manhattanites joined Joy Englewood members to serve our neighbors at the Paterson Block Party. My family and I had a lovely time being with Joy Englewood folks.
It's definitely one of the best outward things we do as a church all year.
I met Mary, 63, who lives on Godwin Avenue. She helped serve food along with us and has an effervescent personality. She shared with me how she experienced such suffering and discrimination, but she is learning to daily forgive. Her energy and gratefulness to God is inspiring. More than what we provide the neighborhood which is a once-a-year event, it really is what we, Joy members, can receive in terms of seeing God in a new light by learning from our Paterson neighbors.
Why serve the needy?
When we read the Bible, we see often how God has a deep concern for the needy and oppressed. God has a concern for justice in society where people can have protection against being assaulted, having sufficient food to live and work, etc. God wants the people he created to experience shalom (whole well-being). He feels sorrow when we do not have it. So those who suffer injustice and the needy of the world are of special attention to God.
This week at Joy Manhattan, we are running VBS (vacation bible school). It’s of the story in Exodus of how when the Israelites were subjugated into slavery and suffering because of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, God heard their cries for help.
God says, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering..." (Exodus 3:7)
Believers in Jesus want to be imitators of God. We want to be his hands and feet to help remedy the sufferings of the poor around us.
Why? Because that is what Jesus has done for all of us. He left his comfortable home in heaven and remedied our spiritual poverty so that we can be rich in close communion with God forever. This Gospel is what empowers Mary and us to forgive and to serve.
As we consider ongoing ways to be generous and share with our neighbors, know that, as Tim Keller writes, Kingdom living is a lifestyle not an event.
Ask God, "God, how do you want me to express your compassion to my needy neighbors in the world?" Listen to His answer. Live it out.