Dean Kuest – Glendale Campus Pastor
I truly mean it when I say, I “NEEDED” the Feed My Starving Children event that Central hosted on all five of our campuses this past weekend where 1,105,488 meals were packed for children who have little to no food.
I can’t remember a time in my life when I have been so frustrated and tired and discouraged by what I’m exposed to on the news, in social media and the realities of our broken world today. Part of that frustration is that the church and those who represent Jesus can be so polarizing in their views, seeming to believe that their personal views are identical to those of Jesus; thus, everyone within a different spectrum must represent the “other” guy. I doubt most Christians would say that out loud, but that is definitely how many come across.
In fact, a pastor friend of mine from Cleveland, did a Facebook experiment. First, he posted this simple sentence, “Hilary Clinton is a dearly loved child of God.” I’m sure that you can imagine already the range of responses that he received. Many of them were ugly, many contained personal attacks at her, him or others who had posted previously. Almost all of them were posted by professing believers in Jesus.
The following day, he posted again, this time saying, “Donald Trump is a dearly loved child of God.” Again, he received the same range of emotion and vitriol in the replies to his post and like the previous day, almost all comments came from professing believers in Jesus.
Who you are casting your vote for is not the point here. How we treat those with whom we disagree is the point. As a pastor, I am exposed to many opinions that people hold about Christianity and the church – many of them are negative. Very few of those negative opinions were formed based on the teachings of Jesus. Most are formed based on the way Christians live our (or don’t live out) the teachings of Jesus.
This weekend, I was approached by more people who do not attend our church to thank me for what our church is doing in our community than I have had in a year combined. This weekend, there were 5500 people on Central campuses who came together to accomplish a purpose that is close to the heart of God. There were Christians and Atheists, Democrats and Republicans, wealthy and poor, and people of every race – all coming together in joy and laughter to serve “the least of these”. I took the above picture as I was in the midst of a conversation with someone about the beauty of what I was experiencing this weekend. That’s when it hit me…THIS is what greatness looks like. Not politics. Not everyone agreeing on your positions or candidates. Greatness is found in serving others.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” – Mark 9:35
Now for the hard part. Quite honestly, it is easy for me to give up a couple of hours on the weekend to serve such a noble cause such as providing food for starving children. Jesus wasn’t talking about an event, he was calling his followers to a lifestyle of service. That means serving my neighbor who revs his motorcycle in his driveway at 3am on most mornings, your co-worker who has decidedly different political views, and that family member that nobody wants to invite to the reunion. Let’s be a part of making Jesus’ name GREAT on a daily basis!
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:34-40