First, I want to say that I appreciate the effort by the church to provide a meal for the family of Robert Davis. With just a little notice, several came together and hosted a family who was mourning the loss of a loved one. Most of us didn’t know Robert, a few of us did, but that is actually irrelevant. I am not even sure if he believed in Jesus, but I do know that Jesus would have wanted us to help. Honestly, this wasn’t about him as much as it was about doing something good for the family.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10, ESV)
God’s word instructs us to do good for everyone as often as we get the opportunity. But what does that mean? What does it mean to do good to others, especially when they are hurting? In very simple terms, it means that we must walk with them, empathize with their hurts, and try to lighten the load for them in any way possible. If the shoe was on the other foot and it was our family mourning isn’t that what we would want?
Secondly, I want to express how much I appreciate the spirit with which you provided the meal. Sure, we could have used this as an opportunity to evangelize, preaching to them about Jesus. Instead, we chose to simply be present and avoid the temptation to take advantage of the circumstances. Sometimes, when an event like this is hosted, people don’t understand why we didn’t present the gospel.
My answer is simple: its feels ingenuine and manipulative to invite someone to an event with ulterior motives. That is not who I want to be, and I am sure it is not who you want to be either. If I had invited them to a meal with the understanding that we would study the Bible and they came, I would feel Ok with it. But, to ask someone to come to a meal and then try to force them to listen as someone preaches feels unethical and dishonest. Kind of like that old sales tactic called bait and switch. I once went to a car dealership to look at car that was advertised for a specific price only to find out it wasn’t even available. I was not happy about it and never returned to that lot.
Thirdly, as James said, what good is it to claim faith in Jesus and then refuse to help someone in need (James 2:14-17). I know providing a meal for a family after the memorial service of their child and friend is not a need in the strictest sense of the word, but it is still a need and a real way to show love. Often, the best thing we can do for people is to simply love them, value them as people despite their sins, and give them the opportunity to see the love of Jesus expressed through our actions, not just our words. Besides, I believe that Jesus said something about loving people (Matt. 22:34-40) as we would love ourselves.
Who are we supposed to be as Christians and followers of Jesus? We are supposed to emulate Jesus as much as possible and he was a man who loved people, all people. It seems like he spent as much time, if not more, with the outcasts and sinners than he did the religious. He genuinely loved people and it showed. They felt it when they came near to him. They didn’t feel judged or pushed away, just loved. That is who I want us to be. Christians who genuinely love others without pretense. Thank you.