A couple of Sundays ago a grandmother from our church who also happens to be a nurse, noticed a young man sleeping on the steps of a commercial building near the hospital. When she stopped to offer him something to eat, she mentioned that she was headed to church and he was more than welcome to join her. He shared with me later that he figured it was the least he could do to show his gratitude to this sweet lady for bringing him breakfast.

We were into our second worship song of the morning when I noticed this young man dressed in hospital scrubs and jeans sitting a few seats over from me on the front row. The grandmother who invited him and her husband were also sitting on the front row with him, so I thought nothing of it, assuming he was their guest or a relative.

Moments later I preached a message on how God puts a new spirit inside of us and takes out our hard hearts, replacing them with tender and responsive hearts. (Ezekiel 36:26) He then gives us a heart for God, a heart for the church and a heart for people. For years we have carried the tag line along with all of our communication, your life matters.”. We print and distribute “kindness cards” that carry the same message, encouraging our members to be “Jesus with skin on” as they use those calling cards in their daily lives.

As a pastor, you see people come and go each week and you have to wonder if they are getting it. This past Sunday I shared this same story with our congregation and celebrated how they have embodied the message of Jesus… “your life matters.”

On that Sunday morning when our special guest attended, there was an after care group meeting for lunch. This group sprung up organically as word that a friend who had a friend who was being released from prison soon without any support system or family became a matter of prayer. This group invited our guest to join them for lunch. Then one of the members of the group invited our guest to stay the night with him. Then a couple took our guest shopping at Wal-Mart for new clothes, a backpack and some other essentials. The following day, we were able to get him a bus ticket to Phoenix where his grandparents lived and he was on his way.

I realize that we are to do our good deeds in secret, and these were indeed done behind the scenes. We love to celebrate the accomplishments of our kids and we brag on our employees and coworkers, so today a pastor is gushing with enthusiasm and elation over the actions of body of believers. Jesus was criticized for hanging out with messy people. If ex-convicts, alcoholics and even the homeless don’t feel welcome in our churches, then Jesus probably doesn’t either. Every person we encounter is either a problem to avoid or a person to be loved. How will you show someone else that their life matters today?

 

Greg Richards is Lead Pastor at Life Church, located on the square in Kaufman. YourLifeChurch.com