What Is A Christian To Do?

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Hate crimes, police shootings, terrorist attacks and injured stray cats are all recent events that have filled me with sadness. And yes, I purposely included cats in the same sentence as the lives of human beings. The reason why is because the cat incident hit the closest to my physical home.

Our backyard borders a small patch of trees and a drainage creek. We see our share of animals pass through. The stray cat was a new visitor. It looped back around to park his weary body under our front porch glider. I could see his matted fur and the swarm of flies that followed him as he oozed infection onto the concrete.

It was not a problem I expected to see in our backyard. We shooed him away, but he kept inching his way back until he found his familiar spot on the front porch again. Truth be told, I didn’t want this problem hanging around my house or present in my life.

I did the Christian thing and prayed for the cat. I prayed that the cat would simply disappear. I prayed for the cat’s suffering to end. I wrestled with Christian guilt because truth-be-told, I wished the cat hadn’t showed up here. In the end, the cat did not hear my prayers. He stayed where I could no longer ignore him.

We asked neighbors if they knew the cat’s owner. No one claimed the cat. I didn’t have to imagine their relief that this cat ended up in our yard and not in their yard. The cat was still our problem.

Eventually, we transported the cat to a local animal shelter. The employee examined the cat and used a sensor to detect a microchip. My heart lept just a little when she reported that there was a microchip. There was real hope to reunite cat and owner. Most likely, I will never know the end of this story. However, I can find some solace in the fact that we did something to potentially improve the cat’s circumstances.

Sometimes the problems in this world feel like that injured stray cat. We didn’t ask for the problem. We don’t want to deal with the problem. We don’t have the resources to fix the problem. Or worse yet, maybe we simply don’t care about the problems because it doesn’t directly affect our day-to-day lives.

The Bible has it right: Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act (Proverbs 3:27). All of us have more power than we realize. Everyone deserves our good. Jesus shows us the better way: When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36.) May we look upon others with compassion and love rather than with intolerance and hate.

The best expression of faith that I can come up with is to show kindness in the moment. It may not change the world, but it can offer hope for that given moment. Maybe that is the best any of us can do on our own. We show kindness and hope that together with the kindness of others, God uses those moments to become a movement of love that changes the world.

What Good Do You Carry Around?

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The elderly gentlemen in the self-checkout lane appeared to struggle with bagging his groceries.  He was methodical and very slow. In response to the subtle, but yet perceptible frustration of the lady next in line and in front of me, he placed the divider bar behind his groceries. The lady took the cue. She efficiently rang up her groceries, bagged them, and squeezed past the man. She was quickly on her way again.

We have all been there and can relate to this scene. In my younger years, I would have been discreetly rolling my eyes and cursing my bad luck to pick the slowest line. Life can be one busy obligation after another with places to go, things to do, and people to meet. Interruptions and delays are not welcomed in over-scheduled days.

Now that my husband is semi-retired and our boys are on their own, life isn’t so crazy. My days are still full, but there is much more flexibility in my schedule. Impatient tendencies can creep back in, but refreshing grace abounds more so. (Besides, I find that I can be the one who is slowing down the line!)

Situations like the grocery store scene always remind me of Proverbs 3:27. The words are a clear command from Scripture. Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Our importance, our schedules, and our busyness do not exempt us from doing good. We are to judge the need rather than the person. There are no limitations on the good we are to do. The good doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, just a simple act of love for that given moment in time.

The man was still finishing up when it was my turn to check out. I approached him with a smile, offered my help, and then wished him a good day as he went on his way. It didn’t take much effort on my part, but it sure felt good to act.

We all have the power to act with kindness, a smile, and an extra dose of patience for those around us, wherever we find ourselves. What good do you have to offer to someone in need? More importantly, what good are you holding back? God gives us the opportunities and His goodness to share with others. It is a responsibility, a privilege, a blessing, and sometimes a sacrifice to act. Done in the power of God’s love, joy results!

1 John 2:5

But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: