Last fall, I heard Bob Goff speak at Catalyst Atlanta. The author of Love Does, Bob is all about action. For example, he doesn’t participate in a Bible study with his friends. Rather, they are part of a Bible doing.
Bob understands an important part of our faith that’s easy to forget. James 1:22 says it like this:
Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
That’s a tough challenge. And it’s one we tried to embody at 707 Live, our senior high youth group, this last week.
Our Christian educator gave me a great idea to divide our group into small teams, and give them some money and a time limit. We would then send the groups out to somehow make Fort Dodge better.
So we split into five groups with roughly five students in each. The groups received a twenty dollar bill and went on their way. As the evening unfolded, students were to email me pictures of their experiences so I could show them on our screens to everybody when we returned.
It was a powerful night.
People all over the town were amazed by what our students were doing. One group shocked McDonald’s workers and patrons by purchasing multiple meals for strangers. One group showed the firemen of our town how thankful we are for their service by bringing them cookies and sweets, and it just so happened that they had more people there for a meeting. Other groups purchased food and supplies for homeless shelters in town.
I was touched the most by what my group did (maybe I’m a little biased…). Our group went to the grocery store, bought 24 carnations, and we went to the hospital. Flowers in hand, we went door-to-door, introducing ourselves to patients, hearing their stories, and giving them flowers.
I’d be lying if I said we weren’t nervous, but every person we visited appreciated our presence. We met one lady who was 92 years old and had palpable joy even while in the hospital, another had gone through a rough day of surgery, while an elderly man was deaf and signed his thanks to us.
Before we knew it, we filled up our hour and we still had probably eighteen carnations left. In the end, we had to give our remaining flowers to the nurses and we told them to give them to people who were having a rough day.
Upon leaving, it dawned on us that we could have spent hours in the hospital, distributing those flowers.
We were humbled to see what an impact twenty dollars could have on so many people.
When everybody returned, we shared stories about our experiences. It was amazing to see how many people were touched by what these students did. Cashiers, nurses, homeless people, the hospitalized, social workers, and firemen were just some.
I was convicted because I calculated how much money we spent that night and I realized that I’ve often spent just as much money on Wild Wednesdays, our crazy outreach nights that sometimes just end up entertaining kids.
The evening was a great reminder to me that there’s no better way for people to learn the Gospel than by doing it.
I could have taught a month-long series on generosity, service, outreach, and mission, but sixty minutes of doing it with students had a more lasting impression.
There’s a temptation, as Christians, to spend the majority of our time learning more about the Bible, as if we don’t know enough of it to live by God’s standards. Studying the Bible is a good thing, a vital thing. But if we never go out and do what it says, we deceive ourselves. We miss the point.
What’s one thing you’ve learned from the Bible that you can do this week?