June 5, 2016
Two summers ago I was trying to find a generator for a client (a 40+ man with a son in high school) whose electricity had been turned off because he lost his source of income and was unable to pay the electric bill. The only way for the electricity to be turned on again was for him to come up with $900. That was not going to happen for several reasons, but mostly because he was unable to work due a serious heart condition and his doctor told him that his heart could give out at any time. I really wanted to find a way to get the electricity turned back on, (the summer heat would not be healthy for him) but there was no welfare money available in the county where he lived.
I started calling Lutheran churches in the Cedar Rapids area to ask for contributions of $100 to $300 each. I had never gotten that involved in a client’s life before but there were numerous reasons why it seemed like the right thing to do. As I called around to the various Lutheran churches in our area I heard several reasons why some congregations were unwilling (not necessarily unable) to help. There were a couple pastors who said they simply did not have any money available. Our pastor contributed out of the Pastor’s fund which made it easier for me to talk with other pastors about the client’s situation and my request.
I was asked many questions about my client’s situation in order for people to determine his worthiness for their assistance. I heard many reasons why some pastors/congregations were unwilling to help and seemed to be rather judgmental about his situation. Now I am sure that along the way, over the course of a couple of years, my client had made several decisions that helped put him in the situation he was in that summer. I can tell you, though, that when I told him I had found enough money to get his electricity turned back on, his comment was “Thank you. I guess there are good people in the world.” I wanted to add, “And they were all Lutheran!”
As I have reflected on this experience, it occurs to me that, as Christians, we trust God’s forgiveness of our sins. Sins that we have committed out of ignorance or because of bad decisions. And some of those sins have caused us or others inconvenience, sadness or even anguish. But we believe that God’s forgiveness is not based on our being worthy of that forgiveness but simply out of His love for each of us. If I know nothing else about Christianity, I know without a doubt that God does, indeed, forgive our sins—no questions asked.