‘What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say that you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say ‘good bye! Have a good day, eat well, stay warm’..but then you don’t give that person any clothing or food. What good does that do? So, you see faith on its own isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.’ James 2:14-17
Have you ever been to an amusement park? If not, this may seem a bit lost on you..but imagine you get to a ride that looks nice and safe. It doesn’t look fast or dangerous, well within your comfort zone. The operator takes your money and smiles. ‘Have a good trip’ he says as he straps you in. ‘Just remember you can get off at any time’. ‘What!’ you think, as the seemingly safe ride begins to get faster and faster. Part of you is desperate to get off, to press the eject button and yet you just can’t do it. You know it is right to be on it, and yet you also feel out of control .
This particular ride began for me in Bristol some four years ago. I was sat in a street cafe when The Lord asked me to buy a cup of coffee for a homeless man who walked past. I pretended that I hadn’t heard Him..after all, I was having my quiet time and so nothing should interrupt that..should it!? Later, when I arrived at the conference venue I was collecting a free coffee when I looked out of the picture window and saw the same homeless guy waiting in a bus shelter. Somehow, I found myself stood in front of him with a cup of coffee in my hand. I mumbled to him that I had seen him and felt that God has asked me to buy him a coffee. Now, I am 6ft 3in tall; he must have been at least 7ft tall. As I looked up and gave him the coffee he spoke to me in a language that I didn’t understand, and as I looked into his eyes..how can I explain this?? When I looked into his eyes, I saw Jesus. Half an hour later my friends arrived to find me still on the floor weeping. I don’t remember how I got back into the conference centre..but the work was done. Fast forward four and a half years. Three weeks ago I felt The Lord speak to me about feeding the poor of our community. He had also spoken to several others at the same time. Last week, as a church, we gave out our first food parcel to a lady who had suffered domestic abuse and is a lone parent. Last week I listened to one of the most inspiring talks I have heard on a life poured out by Heidi Baker. I tried to tell the tramp story in the coffee Que. You guessed it..
Yesterday I had the amazing privilege of spending the evening listening to Kyla Alexander from International China Concern humbly explain how Jesus can use a life that has been poured out for Him. ‘Don’t feel sorry for me’ she said as she explained how she had sacrificed getting married and having children to serve disabled and abandoned children in China. ‘Jesus is truly enough’ she said. What really broke me was that she obviously both meant it and lived it.
This Sunday we have the privilege of having an amazing woman of God, Wendy Holmes, talking to us on her life..a life poured out for the children of the Philippines. A truly sacrificial life where her faith has been so visible to the poor and broken.
In two weeks time I am meant to be preaching the fourth talk in a series on living a Christian Life..’A life of Sacrifice’. Its been planned for weeks. I don’t feel remotely qualified.