Are you helping someone cover up life-threatening habits or bad behavior? What is the best (and most loving) way to serve them? Enable them? Or confront them, as hard as that seems?
Imagine a scene like this: The bi-annual weekend church cleanup starts with a conversation about what color to paint the older sanctuary, along with the distribution of assignments for the gathered volunteers. During the discussion, a mother calls to ask if anyone has seen her college age son who did not come home the previous two nights. He had a part time job as a janitor at the church while on summer break and was supposed to leave for college shortly.
The pastor, church deacons and a few parents paused discussing paint pigments, and others halted their jobs to look for Tommy. Everyone spread out to search the premises, knowing the youth room was a great place for sleepovers and there were nooks and crannies especially good for hide and seek. They found Tommy’s jacket in the janitor’s closet and old syringes and drug packets fell out when they lifted it off the floor. Minutes later someone started yelling, “Call the police.” We found him in one of the rear bathrooms of the large facility.
Once the police and ambulance crew arrived, the tone and atmosphere became more serious. The police confirmed the suspicions of some of the college students who were talking together. Tommy had been dead for several hours due to an overdose of heroin.
A few of the students talked to one of the detectives and said they saw Tommy talking to someone in the church parking lot last week after mid-week service in a fancy, dark colored car. Had they witnessed a drug deal they wondered? What was up with Tommy? Since returning from his first year of college, he seemed aloof, distracted, short-tempered, and not interested in hanging out with old friends from the high school youth group.
One of the guys said what I am sure a few were thinking: If we hadn’t been concerned about prying too much, sticking our nose into a friend’s business, or even being labeled a tattle-tale, could we have saved his life? Could his apparent poor choice of taking drugs been averted? If we had been more concerned about his health and spiritual condition instead of just enjoying summer break, would he still be alive? But none of us pressed Tommy with our questions.
Read Luke 22:24-30.
In the Gospel of Luke, we read about an encounter that poses similar concerns. After eating the Passover meal, the disciples of Jesus start arguing about which of them was the greatest. Jesus stopped the arguing by explaining that greatness in His Kingdom is measured differently than what they were accustomed to. Jesus stated He measures greatness not by whether we get what we want from others, but by how well we serve others.
Are you self-absorbed about your own welfare and needs? What petty problems, silly arguments, or trivial pursuits consume your time and energy and keep you from being effective in serving others and being others-centered? Read Paul’s description of Timothy in Philippians 2:19-22. Isn’t that the kind of reference you would like to have on your resume?
Live communally. Serving others as a representative of Jesus is costly, but it is never trivial.
Love is a verb,
©2013 by Mike Olejarz