Simple Loving Service
Simple Loving Service; NV 6/8/03 pm
Michael Jordan is considered by some to be the greatest athlete of all time. He finished his star-studded career with a stellar performance. Time was winding down on the NBA championship game. The Chicago Bulls were down by one basket. The ball was passed to Jordan. Jordan made a fancy move to go around the defender. The defender was so bluffed the he fell to the floor. Jordan sets his sight on the basket and releases just as the buzzer sounds, sinking a perfect 3-point shot, winning the game and the championship.
For most of us, these are the scenes we remember…slam-dunks taking off from the free-throw line, the fame, the popularity, the commercials, and championships. I’d like to share with you a story you might not have heard.
It involved a young boy by the name of Cornelius. He was a thin, extremely quiet boy. His mother and her boyfriend in prison. They had tortured, abused and starved Cornelius and his four year old brother, Lattie. The police discovered the abuse in time to save Cornelius’ life, but it had been too late to save his 4-year old brother.
The two great loves of his life were reading and basketball.
The newspaper reporter who had been writing of the tragedy, mentioned in one of his columns that Cornelius’ had a passion for basketball. Steve Schanwald, a vice president of the Chicago Bulls, read the column and called the reporter. Though tickets to Bulls’ games were without exception sold out, Schanwald said that if Cornelius would like to come to a game he would be sure there were tickets available. The reporter took him to the game. I share the story from his perspective.
To every Chicago youngster who follows basketball, the stadium was a shrine. Think of where Cornelius once was, locked up and tormented and hurt. And now he was in the stadium, about to see his first Bulls game.
We walked down a stairway, until we were in a lower level hallway. Cornelius stood between us. Then a door opened and a man came out. Cornelius looked up, and his eyes filled with a combination of wonder and awe and total disbelief.
Cornelius tried to say something; his mouth was moving but no words would come out. He tried to speak and then the man helped him out by speaking first.
“Hi, Cornelius,” the man said. “I’m Michael Jordan.”
Jordan knelt down and spoke quietly with Cornelius. He made some jokes and told some stories about basketball and he didn’t rush. You have to understand—for a long time the only adults Cornelius had any contact with were adults who wanted to hurt and humiliate him. And now Michael Jordan was saying, “Are you going to cheer for us today? We’re going to need it.”
Jordan went back into the locker room to finish dressing for the game. I walked Cornelius back upstairs to the court. There was one more surprise waiting. Cornelius was given a red shirt of the kind worn by the Bulls’ ball boys. He retrieved balls for the players from both teams as they warmed up.
Then, as the game was about to begin, he was led to Jordan’s seat on the Bulls’ bench. That’s where he was going to sit—right next to Jordan’s seat. During the minutes of the game when Jordan was out and resting, Cornelius would be sitting with him; when Jordan was on the court, Cornelius would be saving his seat for him. At one point late in the game Jordan took a pass and sailed into the air and slammed home a basket. And there, just a few feet away, was Cornelius Abraham, laughing out loud with joy.
As we applauded the incredible basket…the act of kindness that Jordan showed Cornelius was receiving the applause of heaven.
You see, “Greatness in the kingdom of heaven is measured by small acts of kindness.”
I want you to leave here tonight reminded that it is within your power to do great things for God.
READ Matthew 25:31-40
What is it that Jesus wants His church to do? What does it mean to be the body of Christ? What is it that Jesus wants His people to do?
A. God is a God described as being a loving God.
1. John 3:16, “God so loved the world…”
2. 1 John 4:16, “God is Love”
B. Not the kind of love the world understands.
1. Not warm bubbly feelings alone…
2. Not like Hollywood portrays.
3. “That He gave His only begotten Son..” kind of love.
C. God’s love is a demonstrative love.
1. “the real evidence of our belief is the way we act
D. The God of love calls us to loving service. It is not enough for us to meet together once a week We are expected to live as His children and act out our faith in Him.
1. Just as He is a God of giving and sacrifice, so too, we are to give, sacrifice and serve others.
2. We should keep in mind that “what we do for others demonstrates what we really think about Jesus’ words”
3. How well and how lovingly we spend ourselves on behalf of others is the only true evidence of our faith in Him and His words.
TS] What is it that Jesus wants His people to do.
II. SIMPLE SERVICE
A. Note the activities that Jesus mentions here: feeding the hungry; giving drink to the thirsty; showing hospitality to strangers; clothing of the naked; caring for the sick; and visiting the imprisoned.
1. Jesus describes acts of mercy we all can do every day.
2. These acts do not depend on wealth, ability, or intelligence; they are simple acts freely given and freely received”
3. Any one of us could easily be involved in a number of these simple acts of kindness without stressing our time, money or strength.
4. Jesus does not tell us to fix all the world’s problems in one shot; rather He invites us to make a difference in a simple fashion: one person at a time.
In 1921, Lewis Lawes became the warden at Sing Sing Prison. No prison was tougher than Sing Sing during that time. But when Warden Lawes retired some 20 years later, that prison had become a humanitarian institution. Those who studied the system said credit for the change belonged to Lawes. But when he was asked about the transformation, here’s what he said: “I owe it all to my wonderful wife, Catherine, who is buried outside the prison walls.” Catherine Lawes was a young mother with three small children when her husband became the warden. Everybody warned her from the beginning that she should never set foot inside the prison walls, but that didn’t stop Catherine! When the first prison basketball game was held, she went…..walking into the gym with her three beautiful kids and she sat in the stands with the inmates.
Her attitude was: “My husband and I are going to take care of these men and I believe they will take care of me! I don’t have to worry!”
She insisted on getting acquainted with them and their records. She discovered one convicted murderer was blind so she paid him a visit. Holding his hand in hers she said, “Do you read Braille?” “What’s Braille?” he asked. Then she taught him how to read. Years later he would weep in love for her.
Later, Catherine found a deaf-mute in prison. She went to school to learn how to use sign language. Many said that Catherine Lawes was the body of Jesus that came alive again in Sing Sing from 1921 to 1937. Then, she was killed in a car accident. The next morning Lewis Lawes didn’t come to work, so the acting warden took his place. It seemed almost instantly that the prison knew something was wrong.
The following day, her body was resting in a casket in her home, three-quarters of a mile from the prison. As the acting warden took his early morning walk, he was shocked to see a large crowd of the toughest, hardest looking criminals gathered like a herd of animals at the main gate. He came closer and noted tears of grief and sadness. He knew how much they loved Catherine. He turned and faced the men, “All right, men, you can go. Just be sure and check in tonight!” The he opened the gate and a parade of criminals walked, without a guard, the three-quarters of a mile to stand in line to pay their final respects to Catherine Lawes. And every one of them checked back in. Every one!
Simple acts of service made a difference in the lives of these men.
Let’s not allow being a Christian, or being the church get so complicated – it is simply about loving on people.
Remember the ole cartoon? A man is sitting in a hotel room. His hair is a mess, his shirt is lying open, and his tie is loosed. He’s unshaven, his eyes have deep, dark rings around them, and he has a look of desperation on his face as he hoarsely says into the phone,
“Preacher, you’ve got to help me. I’ve lost my job, my wife has left me, the kids have gone with her, I’m in debt over my head, and I won’t be able to pay the hotel bill. Please tell me, is Revelation 20 literal or figurative?”
It may be easier to argue over doctrine, than it is to live like Jesus asks.
Reach out a helping hand this week to someone in need just because you love God, and you want to learn to love people more.