Saturday, March 29, 2008

Random Thoughts on Wimber

"The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor; the wicked does not understand such concern."
- Proverbs 29:7.

I read the following quote by John Wimber on ysmarko a couple days ago and have been thinking about it alot. Actually, I try to forget about it and then it pops back into my consciousness at weird times (like when I'm waiting for clients, greeting a table at OG, or taking a bath). Here it is:

Years ago in New York City, I got into a taxi cab with an Iranian taxi driver, who could hardly speak English. I tried to explain to him where I wanted to go, and as he was pulling his car out of the parking place, he almost got hit by a van that on its side had a sign reading The Pentecostal Church. He got real upset and said, “That guy’s drunk.” I said, “No, he’s a Pentecostal. Drunk in the spirit, maybe, but not with wine.” He asked, “Do you know about church?” I said, “Well, I know a little bit about it; what do you know?” It was a long trip from one end of Manhattan to the other, and all the way down he told me one horror story after another that he’d heard about the church. He knew about the pastor that ran off with the choir master’s wife, the couple that had burned the church down and collected the insurance—every horrible thing you could imagine. We finally get to where we were going, I paid him, and as we’re standing there on the landing I gave him an extra-large tip. He got a suspicious look in his eyes—he’d been around, you know. I said, “Answer me this one question.” Now keep in mind, I’m planning on witnessing to him. “If there was a God and he had a church, what would it be like?” He sat there for awhile making up his mind to play or not. Finally he sighed and said, “Well, if there was a God and he had a church—they would care for the poor, heal the sick, and they wouldn’t charge you money to teach you the Book.” I turned around and it was like an explosion in my chest. “Oh, God.” I just cried, I couldn’t help it. I thought, “Oh Lord, they know. The world knows what it’s supposed to be like. The only ones that don’t know are the Church.”

When you joined the kingdom, you expected to be used of God. I’ve talked to thousands of people, and almost everybody has said, “When I signed up, I knew that caring for the poor was part of it—I just kind of got weaned off of it, because no one else was doing it.” Folks, I’m not saying, “Do some-thing heroic.” I’m not saying, “Take on some high standard, sell everything you have and go.” Now, if Jesus tells you that, that’s different. But I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, participate. Give some portion of what you have—time, energy, money, on a regular basis—to this purpose, to redeeming people, to caring for people. Share your heart and life with somebody that’s not easy to sit in the same car with. Are you hearing me? That’s where you’ll really see the kingdom of God.

For some reason this story and Wimber's words hits me hard. Something is sparked in me, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Like many evangelicals I have divorced myself from the everyday life of the poor and needy. I am in the top 5 percent of the richest people in the world yet a mile or two away from me people live on the street. Helping the poor seems like such an impossible task (there are so many!) yet we are clearly called to do it. The message of Scripture is really very simple: help the needy. It's not hard to understand; it's just hard to do.

I also was hit by the taxi driver's comments about "not charging you money to teach the Book." Even though there are some good reasons for Christian authors, etc., to get paid for what they do, it always leaves a slightly bad taste in my mouth. Would Paul do the same if he had the chance today? I'm not so sure. Also, as a counselor I want to help people but (unless I work in a church) I will most likely have to charge people for my services. A man has to feed his family after all and its been found that clients work harder and faster in therapy if they have to pay something. But still, it feels strange to think about charging. I wish I could do it for free. Anyway, these are just my random thoughts for the day.

May Light increase!

1 comment:

Michele said...

What a moving story! I like the description of what church should look like. I'd be interested to see what people around here would say if they were asked the same question.

I have had the same questions about charging for my album. It would be great to be able to do these things for free, but like you said, we have to feed our families. Saying that makes me cringe, but it's the truth. It makes me wonder if I simply don't have enough faith to believe that God can support my family, even if I don't. I remember Keith Greene struggling with the same issue with his albums and concerts. I can't remember what the outcome was. I'll re-read his book and get back to you on that one.