Sunday, December 03, 2006

Which John 3.16 is that?

I don't remember exactly where I read this, but whereas John 3.16 is really famous (I won't reproduce it here - OK, I will: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life), most people don't know 1 John 3.16 or the verses that immediately follow it:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
1 John 3.16-18
Now how's that for a challenging paragraph?

I met someone at church a few months ago. He talked about getting evicted, being out of a job, not getting any help from anyone at church, etc. I asked him if he knew about the church's "benevolence fund", which is used to help people who have hit a rough patch - but isn't intended for chronic or long-term support. He didn't, and I looked into how we figure out who qualifies and so on.

I found out that "Quentin" (not his real name) was already in touch with the folks who could assess his situation and decide whether it matched the purpose of the benevolence fund. I suppose they told Quentin about some possibilities that he didn't want to pursue - perhaps they referred him to "Hotel de Zink," a program for homeless people. But I don't know because I didn't follow up with him.

Which I probably should have. But we were busy with church activities, kids' activities, bills, and so on, and I supposed (as I still do) that Quentin may have brought these problems on himself - which would certainly make me feel uncomfortable. I should have stayed in touch with him, though. Then, rather than supposing, I would know what was up with him. And I would also know that I did what compassion requires, rather than knowing, as I do now, that I didn't do enough.

posted 05-Dec-2006

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