A fictional work
by Timothy A. Southall
Jerry had given up on God years ago. After a long illness, his wife had died. Then while struggling to pay the high medical bills, the plant where he worked had closed and Jerry lost his job. When the bank had foreclosed on his home, Jerry turned to liquor and became a drunk, going from town to town, staying only until he was run out. But one night he had a change of heart and turned back to God.
Jerry decided to go home to his children who were now grown. He walked and caught rides on his long journey home. He then came to a small town. Jerry saw a church building steeple above all the surrounding businesses. As he walked nearer, Jerry saw how huge and nice the church building was. Jerry thought to himself, "They can surely help me."
Jerry went to the nice church building and asked the people there for help. The leaders told him they couldn't just give money to everyone that came to the door. He then looked around. He saw elaborate furnishings, ornate woodwork, polished floors, and a sparkling chandelier. In the auditorium, Jerry saw plush carpeting, brilliant stained glass, high ceilings, and massive doors. He thought that a congregation of that size would surely be able to arrange for him to take a shower and clean up. But they told him, "Sorry, we don't have those facilities here, and we don't know anyone who does." They sent him on his way and said, "May God be with you."
Jerry walked about a quarter of a mile, then he sat down and cried. He couldn't believe they hadn't helped him. He had seen so few church buildings with such nice things in them, but that's all this one was—a pretty building with nice things.
A man came up to him and asked him what was wrong. Jerry told the man his story and how his life had fallen apart. He explained how, after years of street life, he had found Jesus again. And then he related how he had been turned away at the big church building.
Jerry's story brought tears to the eyes of the man who then told him to go to the small wood-framed church building up the road to ask for assistance. The man explained that the building wasn't much to look at, but the people there had the love of Christ in their hearts. As the man reached out to point the way to the small church building, Jerry saw his hands and asked, "What caused the scars in your palms?" The man replied, "I, too, was rejected by the religious people in the community." And then the man vanished.
Copyright © 1997 Timothy A. Southall. All rights reserved.
Lord, let us be careful, when building our churches,
Our temples of marble and stone,
That we not erect monuments, cold and dead,
While You stand outside, alone.
Jesus said, ". . . whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." —Matthew 25:46 NIV
(For a deeper study, read Matthew 25:31-46.)