Ken and C. J. are a Christian couple who live in Bodaga Bay, a little town north of San Francisco. They run a deli in a store up there. A few years ago, Bodaga Bay was big enough to have one homeless man, the town tramp was named Garland. Garland dressed poorly, acted a little strange and slept in the city park. Being Jesus-followers, Ken and C.J. befriended Garland; offered him food and kind words. When their store was broken into and robbed most people in town accused Garland. Ken and C.J. — instead of accusing — prepared a very expensive gift basket for Garland and gave it to him.
The next morning the police showed up with Garland and the expensive gift basket; certain they had caught the burglar. To protect Garland from embarrassment Ken and C.J. said, “Oh, Garland! Thank you for bringing your basket back. We forgot to put some stuff in it we wanted to put in it. And by the way, here’s the change I forgot to give you.”
Ken made up a number — $38.67 — and in front of the police he opened the cash register and gave $38.67 to this homeless guy. The police let Garland go without saying a word. A few mornings later Garland died in the park in his sleep. Ken and C.J. were called to the attorney’s office. They were told that Garland had made them the sole heir in his will. He wrote, “The entire contents of my travel bag are entirely yours.”
Inside the bag was a bag of birdseed, a Bible and a bankbook. The names on the savings account were Garland and Ken and C.J. The last entry in the savings account was for $38.67 bringing the balance to well over three million dollars.
I’ve shared that story before but do you know what bothers me the most about that story? What bothers me the most is that the very first thought that came to my mind the very first time I heard it was something like, “Who would have ever guessed that that guy was worth so much!
What is the measure of the worth of a person? What is the measure of the worth of your neighbor? What is the measure of the worth of the people living in the margins of our community?
When I think about the cross and the empty tomb, I am reminded that Jesus values people so much that he was willing to wrap his arms around a cross. I am reminded that Jesus love is so great that resurrection power is let loose in the world. The cross and the tomb are living proof of a loving God.
Your neighborhood, the place where you work, your dorm, your apartment building, the softball diamonds where
your kids play…are filled with people who are the passion of Jesus heart.
There are times when God gives me just a little peak at the passion on his heart for people. I’ll be looking out over the
valley, or driving down 322, or walking through the grocery store, and my heart begins to fill up with emotion and tears come to my eyes, for people that I don’t even know. And it doesn’t come from me, like you sometimes I struggle to love well the people I know…let alone people I don’t know, but I think God just wants to remind me of how much He values people.
That is why we are doing CityServe. We are going to cancel church and go out into our communities to serve because when we serve we open our hearts to the passion of Jesus. We are going to cancel church and go out into our communities to serve because we need to be where Jesus is and when you go out and serve you are going to find some people around him Jesus has thrown his arms. We are going to cancel church and go out into our communities to serve in hopes that we might be living proof of a loving God.
Come join us, sign up at www.sc-cityserve.org