The 4,000 Club. Really?

The 4,000 Club. Really?

I don’t know many things.  In fact, I am a very simple man on a lot of levels. But I do know that we will all one day leave this earth.  I’ve been watching, and I haven’t seen anyone last much more than a hundred years, and I’ve seen a lot more leave this life unexpectedly a lot sooner than that. And coupled with that knowledge, is my belief that we will one day all stand individually before the Lord and account for our lives.  Two of Jesus’ teachings come to mind as I think about that: 1) “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded, and 2)” When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat…As you do unto the least of these, so you do also unto me.”  From these I have learned that the blessings in my life are from God and that they are never for me alone.  Whatever God has placed in my hand or in my life has a purpose beyond my own well-being.  And one day, when my great gettin’- up morning comes, I will meet my Lord face-to-face and account for how I have used those blessings for God’s purposes.  And from those quotes I have also learned that I am never to turn my back on people in need that God has placed in my path. I am never to exclude people whose circumstances would lead society to see them as somehow less than me.  They are not less than me. They are my brothers and sisters.  I am to help the people I can help, and that will be the standard of accounting when I stand before the One who died to give me the opportunity to stand in His Courts at all.

The ones that Jesus refers to as “Lost” seem to me to be people who are separated from God’s present Kingdom and are suffering horribly as a result.  The lost son in Jesus’ story in Luke who finds himself broke, wasting away, and wallowing in a pig sty comes to mind. His predicament is an obvious one. He one day finds himself in a place that he was not created to be in, having arrived there as the fruit of a series of choices and assumptions that monumentally missed the point.  But we often forget that that story was really about TWO lost sons.  The son who stayed home turned out to be just as lost…just as disconnected from his father’s heart…as the one in the pig sty.  The son who stayed home had also monumentally missed the point…that the blessing is in our willingness to connect our hearts to the things that are breaking God’s heart, and that the blessing is in our willingness to use ourselves and our resources joining our lives and cause to God’s cause.  That is really the only truly great blessing to be found on this side of the river because that is what it means to participate in Heaven on Earth.

So, to my point. Anyone who has ever been involved with youth sports knows that there is very little about them that reflects the Kingdom of God. We all go into them filled with joy and hope for our children and within a very short time, we end up bruised and bitter at the experience.  Some of the worst human weaknesses and meannesses are exhibited there in spades.  Exclusion is the modus operendi…the community value.  One day I overheard several women who had never given me the time of day in spite of daily path-crossings were talking among themselves and thinking no one could hear them…or perhaps they knew people could hear them.  These were the “beautiful people”, wearing fur and sitting high up in the stands in the best seats. Doctor’s and “successful” businessmen’s wives all. They were talking about “The 4,000 Club.”  They were saying that so-and-so had just joined their club and they could now invite her into their group, and maybe take her out for coffee.  It took me a while to understand what “The 4,000 Club” was.  The 4,000 referred to 4,000 square feet in their house.  In other words, their standard for inclusion was whether or not a person’s house had sufficient square footage.  That was the standard by which they judged the value of a person…the yard stick for their life’s efforts.  4,000 square feet.  At first, I was angry.  Very angry.  The sick kind of angry that seeks to do damage. I stewed for days about it.  Not because I wanted to join their club, nor because my house doesn’t have 4.000 square feet.  I don’t even know how many square feet it has and I don’t own it anyway.  I was angry because these people have been blessed with amazing wealth and power and influence, and instead of using them to make the world better, they horde the blessing to use as a tool to exclude and humiliate people that I love…and that God loves.

After a couple of weeks of me seriously hating and suffering for it, the Lord finally spoke into my black cloud.  The Lord reminded me that there were two lost sons in that story, and that both of them were breaking God’s heart.  These women were dearly loved by my Lord…he had given his life for them as much as he had for me.  And I was told not to seek to do justice upon them, but to seek compassion for them…for THEIR suffering.  The Lord reminded me that though reaching them will be far harder than reaching drunks and druggies and gangsters and societal outcasts, they are just as much a part of the mission of the Kingdom as any other part of it. They have missed the point.  Will that 4,000 square feet be the measure of their life and breath? Will they stand before the Lord and when asked to account for their lives, will they stand proudly and say, “I owned a home with 4,000 square feet.” And when the Lord asks how many people they used that home to help and who they invited into it, will they say, “Help? Help who? I invited other people with 4,000 square feet in their homes into my home.”  4,000 square feet. Really? Squandering God’s blessings to only end up in the pit of pettiness…smallness…must be a form of suffering that a pig sty pales in comparison to.  At least in a pig sty we know that we are surrounded by pigs and don’t mistake those pigs for friends. And there will be eternal implications for this kind of pettiness.  This kind of meanness will echo across the chasm between this life and the next.  And if these people aren’t reached for the Kingdom, it will be a Kingdom they can never enter because they will never see it as worthy of entrance.  It will have the poor in it, and the filthy, and the least of these – the very people that these women have spent their life and breath putting beneath them and shunning. These women are breaking God’s heart.  God loves them beyond words, and they are lost and very far from home.

The mission is to reach the lost…those that are easy to reach, and those that are hard.  I don’t know how to reach these women or other people like them, but I will be asking the Lord that very question in my prayers for a long time to come. I can reach the addicted, the excluded, the poor, the violent, and the hopeless because I have been all of those things.  But “The 4,000 Club” is a can of worms that I have never been inside of, and every can of worms opens only from the inside.  How do we reach into that kind of pettiness? How do we speak a word of hope and life to people who think that their hope is in a house and that there is absolutely nothing that their life is lacking?  How do we help people to see the true wealth found in bowing down before the King when the ones we are trying to help to see think THEY are the king?  I want these women’s day before the Lord to be a good day for them as much as I want my own day of judgment to be such. I have learned not to rejoice in the downfall of others…even those who have contributed intentionally and viciously to my own downfall. Vengeance is God’s, and once you’ve seen it visited on someone, you will never want to see it again.  How do we help these women out of the pig sty they have built and now are starving in?   I do not have answers to these questions…yet.  But I have learned that there is a blessing to be found in asking them. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

 

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