A few weeks back I was talking with a man who comes regularly to Cross and Crown on Sunday evenings for a meal and the worship. I have known him for a few years but mostly in a superficial, friendly kind of way. He is generally pretty talkative but also a little rough around the edges. As he was eating and we were waiting for the worship to start he began to ask me about myself. He was curious how I was able to be up at Cross and Crown so often. He said it seemed like every time he was up there, I was too. I informed him the reason I seemed to always be around is because… I work at Cross and Crown. Funny how that works, right?
As we continue to chat another man from the neighborhood comes and sits in between us. He isn’t eating. He is there strictly for the message he tells us. The first man and I continue our conversation and he begins to ask me about why I decided to work at Cross and Crown, why I would be interested in helping with the youth, why I wouldn’t work somewhere else and has gone from a less inquisitive position and into more of a, somewhat, hostile questionaire.
While I experience the Spanish Inquisition with this man the worship begins. I do my best to motion to him that the worship is starting and we need to quiet down but he isn’t phased and only tries to talk over the song that has begun. I finally had to tell him we would have to finish the conversation in a few minutes and so he gradually fades out. Just as I had turned to face the front of the sanctuary, where the band was playing, the man who was sitting in between the first man and I said,
“You know why he left, right? He left because the worship started and his spirit couldn’t handle being around all the worship taking place.”
“Huh?”, I hesitantly responded.
He told me, “The man, the man you were talking to. He left because there was something evil in him. I heard him talking to you and trying to talk down to you. Once I heard the way he was talking to you, I started praying. I prayed he wouldn’t be able to be handle the Spirit of God if there was something evil in him”
Then I noticed the first man was gone, just as this man was explaining to me. Wow, I thought. I knew when the first man was talking to me there was something that just wasn’t right. Like I said, I have talked to him several times but mostly about the weather, sports, family….you know.
At the conclusion of the worship the second man and I talked for several minutes. I asked how many times he has been to the Sunday night meal and worship and he said he had been 3 or 4 times. I offered him a plate of food because he came a little late but he said he comes at that time intentionally because he comes for the “spiritual food” not the “physical food” (his words, not mine). He said he likes coming to Cross and Crown because the preacher (Paul) uses the Word. He teaches from scripture and opens the Bible and doesn’t just preach, he said.
I told him about how Cross and Crown is open 4 days a week to the public for food, clothing, medical clinic ect. and Bible study. He said he wasn’t in need of much of anything but he was always interested in a little Bible study. I told him when and where and he has been coming ever since.
The reason I tell this story is because we are in a neighborhood that lacks alot of physical things. The neighborhood and many of its’ people aren’t, for the most part, affluent enough to live without some help in one form or another. But, what this neighborhood doesn’t lack is spiritual awareness. Some of the people in this neighborhood are more in tune spiritually and with God than any upper-class, well off individual that I know.
See, our tendency is to think that if you have money, food, clothes or stuff then you are blessed…if you are blessed then you know God, because He is blessing you. So if that’s true, then if you don’t have money, clothes, food ect, you clearly aren’t blessed and therefore you don’t know God, otherwise you wouldn’t be without.
It’s like I heard a speaker say recently, “Just because something or someone is successful doesn’t automatically mean God’s hand is on it.” He was trying to communicate that just because a person is successful doesn’t necessarily mean God is blessing that person. Satan has a say about earthly matters that God allows, at times. Just look at Job. My point, just because someone is rich doesn’t mean it’s always a result of God blessing them. And, just because a person is poor doesn’t mean it’s because God is not blessing them.
I’ll end with something I read recently…
“Jesus, the King of kings, left behind every privilege, every honor, every trace of his glory and consented to be born in a cold, dank stable. He lived off the land, he was homeless, he may not have owned anything more than a change of clothing. If we shun the poor and claim to know Jesus, we are utterly deluded. He, himself, was one of them.”
It’s pretty incredible how much I have learned from these “poor” people.