The night before last I had a dream. I was in Mexico relaxing on a bench after having eaten a meal. I watched as a clean shaven, neatly dressed man and his daughter approached me. I knew, as only one can in a dream, that this man and his daughter were believers. I also knew that they were beggars despite their well-groomed appearance.
When the man came up to me I saw that he cradled a booklet in his arm. The title of the booklet was, "Evangelical." He turned to me and said only one thing, "I have no food."
This presented a dilemma. I had given all my change for a tip after the meal I had eaten. All I had left was a single ten dollar bill. I could give him everything or nothing. There wasn't anything in between. I considered running somewhere to break the ten but I needed to respond in the moment.
"I'm sorry," I said. "I just gave all my change for a meal tip."
The man and his daughter simply waked away with his booklet and I woke up. I left for church to preach a sermon on the Kingdom of God.
This was a dream, but it may well have happened in real life. I am in Mexico City once or twice a year, and I encounter plenty of beggars both here in the States and in Mexico. I have faced this very dilemma before and have responded just as I did in the dream. To me the dream can mean only one thing: I have not yet fully become Evangelical.
I say this even though I am an ordained minister and have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I am not yet an Evangelical for two reasons. First, I don't believe the Bible. Matthew 6 says that God takes care of the plants and birds and that he is capable and motivated to provide for our basic needs. I know I don't believe that because I cling to my money. I only believe it on an intellectual level, which is, practically speaking, pure and simple unbelief. If I were convinced of the Scripture's truthfulness, I would not hesitate to give the last of my money to someone in need. The anxiety I experience over money proof positive of my unbelief regarding Matthew 6:25-34. My actions betray that I don't really believe God feeds the birds.
The second reason I am not yet an Evangelical is that this word is derived from the Greek for good news (see previous blog). This good news is about a kingdom. It is socio-economic news, rooted in the kind of repentance that affects your personal finances. John the Baptist said this repentance would mean someone with two coats would give to one with none. That tax collectors would only collect what they were supposed to and wouldn't inflate taxes for their own financial gain. Soldiers would also not extort money if they were serious about this gospel repentance. When Zaccheaus believed the "evangelion" (good news), he gave half his wealth away and repaid those he had cheated times four!
One day, when my actions are consistent with the teachings of Jesus, I will be an Evangelical. Perhaps then the man in my dream will award me the booklet.