So today on my way home from school I am listening to CBC radio – like the geek that I am. The feed is from Calgary so after 3pm I get to hear about Calgary traffic woes – which all seems a little pedestrian…
The traffic reporter comes on with her litany of fender benders, tow trucks this and that and a handful of road closures. Turns out today the weather and not the usual ineptitude of Calgary’s drivers that is the worst enemy of the homeward bound commute. It is some freakishly cold temperature and blowing snow – etc, etc. Apparently, there are several hills in Calgary that can in these conditions get quite icy and make progress up the hill largely impossible. This is not a reasonable calculation to many Calgarian drivers as they unheedingly attempt to rocket their way up these inclines (let’s be clear these are not really challenging grades except for Albertans whose predilection for flat open spaces seems to hinder their judgement of rudimentary principles of physics). Squiggling and swerving out of control as they were the traffic stacks up behind them.
“It seems a group of high school boys are out there on Center Street helping to push cars up the hill”
The traffic reporter barely even squeezes the words out – but my mind is popping. i know that area of Calgary and I know that there is a small Mennonite church sitting basically at the bottom of that hill. I know too that there is a volunteer youth worker at that church who has led small groups of high school boys for years. Its weird but somehow I know the number of the church and after I call it my hunch is confirmed: his small group of boys had not even gotten down to doing their Bible Study they had spent the whole time pushing cars up the hill.
I told him his group had made the traffic report. “Shoot,” he said, “we didn’t want to get noticed.”
Sometimes, I hear evangelicals debating evangelism over service formerly known as the Social Gospel. I think that argument ought to be put to bed at least for a good long rest. The answer is simple.
I wonder if sometimes this debate is entertained because we are just looking for the easiest way to appease the guilt we face when we encounter the servanthood that characterized Jesus ministry. Some people argue that there is little point to good deeds if we can’t somehow communicate the reason for our good works. Rubbish! Jesus didn’t teach us to do good deeds because they will allow us to do some other more important thing. Jesus did good things – he served people – because it was the best thing he could do for them. That’s it! No other agenda!
Could it be that we somehow think that the ‘telling’ will allow us to get away with doing less for people? I mean follow the logic. Maybe our desire to share the gospel with people is actually a result of the fact that we really are not that interested in serving them wholeheartedly. Maybe we think well if THEY have Jesus they probably will pull THEMSELVES up by the boot straps and put their lives back together. Or maybe we think – I’m not totally willing to serve THEM (you Jesus called this bringing Kingdom of Heaven to the earth) so I will at least make sure that I seal their eternal fate by telling them about Jesus. Or maybe worst of all we think that some flimsy act of randomish kindness that cost us very little is actually meaningful to the receiver of that gift and that adding the phrase “because Jesus loves you!” really cuts the mustard. Dude! Let’s give our heads a shake if that is where we are at!
That’s what I thought about when I heard about these boys. Okay so in some ways maybe their service was not the deepest most engaged action they could have taken. Who knows? But I do know that when they saw a REAL problem they rolled up their sleeves and pitched in. Done. No – hey I am gonna push you up the hill and write Jesus hearts U on your dirty bumper as you drive off. These guys were even bummed to get mentioned on the traffic report!
Look all I’m saying is until we are willing to serve people in as much depth as Jesus was we should probably SHUT UP about claiming to do things in his name – THAT’s ALL!