I've got a number of code names for churches in Ashland. They give the real identity to the institutions. For instance, there is the Reprobation Army. They are leading men and women away from Christ, and have no right to the title Salvation. There is also Five (Dumb as) Stones. Why they would name themselves 5 Stones in the first place is beyond me. But adding the parenthetical statement provides that extra accuracy that is needed.
Case in point for the later of these: 5DaStones is hosting "Freebay," a time when the underprivileged in Ashland can come and get Christmas presents for free. Sounds good on the surface, but let's think about it.
This charade is trying to promote an form of godliness. But in reality, it is denying the power thereof and lacking any sort of Biblical underpinning.
The way you help underprivileged is not by giving them electronics and jewelry (real items that they are offering). Those who are truly underprivileged need bread, milk, and peanut butter.
What's more, they need to work. The Bible doesn't believe in freebies unless it is an absolute necessity. If a person is on the brink of starvation, you supply their needs. Destitution requires immediate attention. People who are underprivileged are not at that level that they need freebies. They need to work.
They certainly don't need gadgets that will provide them with hours of entertainment. Their time needs to be redeemed and spent being productive. They don't need jewelry either. Jewelry is for those who are successful and have achieved a level of economic prosperity.
Paul said, "If you don't work, you don't eat." To put it another way, "If you don't work, you don't get an iPod." Or, this little tidbit is good to live by, "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need."
"But isn't that what 5Stones is doing?" You've got the wrong definition of need. (see difference of destitution and underprivileged above).
My guess is that those who will come to Freebay are those who are on some sort of government program. Here's a tip: Instead of giving them a new TV, make them start washing cars or help them start up a business. If they are willing to work, you can give them assistance in getting it off the ground so that they are not continuing to leach off the system (and churches who are dumb enough to give out fee jewelry).
Of if it is a widow and orphan, then make a pact with them that you will provide for them so that this mother can home school her child and raise him/her in the fear of God. You will supply their needs, so long as they commit to serious discipleship (attending church, meeting with the elders for discipleship, and hey, let's be crazy and make them do some work--clean the church, set up chairs and sound system on Sunday morning, etc.)
Let's admit it, buying some "poor" people another stuffed toy isn't going to solve anything. It is silliness that is brought on by a failure to think through the issues of our day seriously.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.