After church Billy introduced me to Ronnie. Ronnie and his wife are homeless and have been sleeping in one of the abandoned buildings up the street from Christ Community Church. Early this morning the police very politely told the couple they would have to leave. In desperation, Ronnie turned to our church where kind and benevolent people have established the Jericho Road ministry. The purpose of the ministry is to help people out -- when they are down-and-out.
I will not go into all the details, but from the content of Ronnie's stammering words, I am quite sure that he believed God and His Church to be one in the same. Quite a thought. When he finished his story I gave him a hug and Billy prayed over him. Hours later I can still feel Ronnie's rough, unshaven cheek against mine, and hours later I still smell his stench I have been unable to wash away.
Billy was about to help someone move (he is always helping someone), and had to leave. The van driver was waiting for him at the house. Billy asked me if I would set Ronnie and his wife up at one of the nearby hotels. I was more than happy to help, but I couldn't give them a ride because I was on my motorcycle, so I asked Ronnie to hold tight, and I would get him a room close by and return.
At the motel I explained to the lady at the front desk who I was, what I needed, and why I needed it. She was taken aback. I handed her my AmEx, and she asked the Lord to bless me (He already had. And just for the record, Jericho Road will pay for the room). When I returned to the church, Ronnie's wife was walking a beat up bicycle across the church parking lot. I jokingly asked her if she wanted to trade bikes. She smiled shyly and said, No. Ronnie said, Yes!
We didn't trade!
All of this adventure was preceded by another tremendous message from Keith (I would feel better if he would bomb at least once), about the love of God. All I could think of as I looked at Ronnie and his wife was the answer Jesus gave when he was asked, Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus summed up the entire message of God's Word this way: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
This morning, the spirit of all of God's Law and His Prophets hung in the balance -- God asked us to love Him -- by loving our neighbors -- who lived in an abandoned building -- one hundred yards from His church.