My good friend Heidi has an obsession with something she calls her Jesus perfume. The average person wrinkles their nose at it, but I too have become captivated by the essence of it and now proudly wear it every chance I can.
Jesus perfume is the smell a homeless person leaves on your clothing after you have greeted them with a huge hug and smile. It is the essence of servitude and the essence of Jesus. Easter Sunday I walked away from the park with its scent permeating every inch of my sweater and hair, and I couldn't have been happier. It was a day filled with the opportunity to love people and understand the true meaning of Easter.
Yesterday close to 200 homeless people were served and even more amazing are the numbers of volunteers who stepped forward to serve alongside us. 49 showed up and gave up part of their Easter to help. Even more beautiful is the exponential growth we are experiencing as people have stepped out of their comfort zones to serve. Each week, without fail, the mass of people congregated down by the tennis courts has definitely caught the attention of more than one observer and somebody new steps forward to get involved. We have all been humbled watching God grow, nurture and provide for this ministry.
There is so much more to it than just feeding and what I am about to write pushes me out of my comfort zone. Cooking food and serving it is a very important and desperately needed thing, but I am challenging all who want to really make an impact to embrace what I am about to say prayerfully and earnestly. This has been weighing heavily on my heart for the past few weeks and I can no longer stay silent about it. Feeding the body is one thing, but coming from behind the table to interact and get in the lives of the homeless is something entirely different. I sense God weeps over His children struggling with displacement or various addictions and it drives me to my knees to stand in the gap and pray.
Here is why my heart has been provoked to be counted faithful in my objective to get every single broken life restored back to God. More than one homeless person has remarked to us that their sole reason for coming down to the park week after week is for the hug and smile they know they will get. Have you ever experienced the reality of a grown broken man sobbing in your arms while they candidly state that your hug is the first human physical contact they have had all week? It destroys me everytime.
Recognizing that life comes at us in stages, my challenge is this: If you are comfortable feeding them, will you take the next step and unconditionally love them? Will you put on the cloak of loving our Savior and proudly wear the essence of His perfume?
Matthew 25:31-45"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.
34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.'
37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'
41-43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'
44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'
45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'
46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."