“The pastor lives on the belief that Christ holds everything together.” M. Craig Barnes
That line means more and more to me all the time. What pastors do is not predicated on our abilities to “make things work” or get people to do the things we want them to or look the way we want them to look. Our work is soulish. That means we can’t always see or touch what we work with, and just try and measure success!
The holiday season always makes for a busy benevolence fund, and this season is no exception with life so hard for so many right now. I sat across from a man the other day who had nothing but the clothes on his back and what he had in his hands. As we talked I was torn over what I could do for him. He needed the right place to say so he could look for work. He needed cash for a new ID and food stamps. He needed clothes and food. He simply needed about anything anyone could give him. What on earth could a shepherd of souls give a guy in his situation?
The more I let him talk, the more he revealed about his walk with God. Before he lost everything he called himself a Christian, but he let the simple success of his life become his god and he lost track of the One, True God. His life became wrapped up in his own vices, and they ate him alive. But now, with nothing, God had his attention. God is speaking through His Word like never before. God is waking him up at night to prepare him for what he needs to do. The more I prompted him down these paths, the more he sounded like the Psalmist. Over and over he would say that he was learning that it was better to have nothing and have God than have all the riches in the world and lose his Lord.
Before he left, we were able to find some clothes in the church and I gave him some resources and the number of our food pantry. He’s been there before and he will be back again. We did what we could on that day to help his immediate, physical needs.
But the pastor lives in the belief that Christ holds everything together. It isn’t the food, the half-way house, the clothes we gave him that will hold him together. It is Christ. Maybe he needs to be in the place because that is exactly where God wants him; it is exactly where God can speak to him. And if his future is going to be more God-breathed than his past, he needs to listen to the Lord in his poverty and brokenness before a job and money and a place to live tempt him to forget again.
Pastors and churches do what we can to help the immediate and very real needs of people and families. But if we forget that it is Christ that holds everything together, what have we given anyone?