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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Key Foundational Principle: "Demonstrating God's Love"

The key foundational principle of Common Cupboard is "Demonstrating God's Love." I believe that what we do and how we do it speaks much louder than any word we speak. I believe that our western culture has heard a lot of gospel, but I am not sure that they have really understood it. Too often a large part of the Church here in the US has been caught up in arguments, divisions, political agendas, scandals, and frankly our own selfishness that the words and actions have not matched. So with Common Cupboard we focus on equipping followers of Jesus to do things in such a way that the love of God is demonstrated.

The Bible is full of directives to love in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus summed up the Old Testament in two great commandments, to love God and to love people. He told his disciples that the world would know who we are because of the way we love. We are told by one of Jesus' best friends' John in his letter to followers of Jesus that we love because God first loved us. And I love how Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans ... "But God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

To me there is a saying of Jesus that ties it all together for me. It is in John's Gospel. He says "As the Father sent me, so I send you." God sent his divine son Jesus as a flesh and blood human to take the lowest place and serve his creation. He sent Jesus as God in the flesh, to be Love's humble servant. It is the same way that Jesus sends us, with the same mission as well. We are sent to demonstrate God's love.

To me this transforms all that I do ... if I let it. The commonplace becomes an opportunity to demonstrate God''s love. Kindness in word or deed becomes a powerful means of ushering people closer and closer to God. But it has got to be done with intentionality. You can't be slipshod about demonstrating God's love! Its got to be on purpose.

This is why we do things the way we do at the cupboard. For instance having people fill out forms, stand in line, come to an organization, wait to be seen in order to get food that they need is not serving them in a way that demonstrates God's love. God comes to us! He meets us where we are! He sets no hierarchy or organization in the way of experiencing his kindness, compassion or love. That's why we deliver food through visiting them. That's why there is no forms, no questions, no requirements to receive our groceries. We want to break down the impersonal charity hand-out, and be personally present, caring and lovingly serve people right where they are. This is helping people "in such a way that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven."

Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying. "Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words." The story goes that this was said in response to a disappointed young disciple who had followed Francis all day long hoping to hear the preaching that transformed hopeless people and brought faith alive. Instead, he got to see Francis help an old man, give to a beggar, listen to the tearful story of another, serve a sick person. It was actually the power that Francis had to incarnate the message of the love of God in his actions, that drew people to faith in Jesus.

This key principle, demonstrating God's love in practical ways, will open up hearts to faith! Paul, the writer of most of the books of the New Testament, says this in his letter to the Romans, "Don't you know it is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance." My friends, we are Christ's body here are earth. It is through us that God demonstrates this love and kindness and draws people to repentance.

This post is the last of 3 in the series on foundational principles of Common Cupboard. The other two can be found by clicking on "Common Cupboard: A Pooled Resource." and "A Common Cupboard Foundational Principle - "Invisibility"

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