As a Christian, every aspect of my life was governed by rules and doctrine. And when I inevitably failed (because we ALL fail – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23), I felt convicted. Or, “impressed with a sense of guilt.”
I hadn’t really thought about myself in those terms anymore. I’ve tried to distance myself from the Christian bubble I lived in, including using “Christian-ese”.
But sometimes, there’s only one word that really describes how you feel.
Convicted. That’s how I feel this morning. I just read a two-year old story out of Kansas City about how the KC Rescue Mission told an atheist volunteer group that they would not be a good fit and could not volunteer to serve meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving that year (despite having done so previously).
Two things immediately sprang to mind:
- I love the atheist group in question for even wanting to volunteer at a rescue mission. After having begun my career working for two different rescue missions, I wouldn’t be able to be that charitable. I do not support rescue missions.
- We need more secular resources to care for the poor and homeless. Resources that don’t require you to sit through a sermon to receive a meal. Resources that can help you get back on your feet without requiring you to become a member of a church and follow doctrine.
They do exist. But they rarely (or never) get the name recognition that rescue mission ministries do. I live in the Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). Ask random people on the street where the homeless are helped and you’ll be told one of two places: the Durham Rescue Mission or the Raleigh Rescue Mission.
And I can’t think of a single homeless shelter that is secular and doesn’t require you to participate in a religious ceremony to receive aid.
One of the basic tenets of Sunday Assembly is to Help Often.
When I was still a believer, I thought it was the most noble thing in the world to help the homeless. When I worked at the rescue missions, I really felt I was doing something to change the world. When I served meals at the shelter, I could see lives being changed. I had always planned to do more of that. There were things I was going to do in the world, in the name of Christ, to make life better.
When my life changed, this idea of changing the world fell to the wayside. There are various reasons behind it: laziness, apathy, insecurity, ignorance… but at the end of the day, I failed. Both myself and the people I wanted to help.
So when I read the story today about how an atheist group was willing to put aside their differences and work alongside a ministry to help those in need, I was convicted. I haven’t been willing to do that. I fundamentally oppose the missions of these ministries. But if I am truly going to help often, I need to either be willing to work with the resources already in place or find a way to start my own or bring awareness and recognition to those resources that already exist.