I'm talking about the kingdom work we are all called to. How do we make it all fit? We can't walk away from daily responsibilities that are so obvious, but neither can we walk away from taking care of the needy, the sick, the weak, the widowed, the orphaned.
I can't pretend I don't see homeless people or abandoned and abused children or lonely people in the nursing home or the millions of people in Africa dying of AIDS and starvation or......
Well, I can choose to pretend it's not there, but I grieve the Holy Spirit when I do. God's word is so clear on how we are to treat each other. We are to love Him with all we have and through loving Him we then have the power to love each other, take care of each other the way we take care of ourselves. Everyone we come in contact with, not just the ones we choose to love.
I have so much. Everyday I know I'll have three full meals and usually several snacks. Every night I know where I'm going to sleep- in a warm house, with a roof over my head. Every day I know that my child will be loved, provided for and nurtured. I could go on and on. I don't feel guilty for the blessings in my life. I'm thankful for them. Yet the thought that rings in my head is "to whom much has been given, much is required." Through Jesus, much (more than I could ever ask or think) has been given to me, to us.
Yesterday I read this post on a friend's blog. It has stayed with me all day. Convicting, reminding, prodding. I don't think he meant it to be haunting, but it has been for me. Especially that last line.
what can you buy for $.69?
my family and i visited a local christian bookstore on tuesday evening. as we were browsing i found a favorite author's book on the clearance rack. ron sider's just generosity was 90% off. (i also highly recommend two of his other books: rich christians in an age of hunger and good news and good works. you should also check out the organization he founded and leads: evangelicals for social action.)
when we went to checkout we were purchasing 4 books and some finger paints and art paper for judah. the other books are great and we're going to enjoy them. they just turned out to be 10 or 20 times more expensive than sider's book. it cost me $.69 to buy just generosity.
i'm thankful for the savings. don't get me wrong. but on my drive home i began to reflect upon this price and what's behind it. i'm not in retail or publishing, so i'm speaking now as an opinionated novice. but the difference between equality and opportunity for all people and the extreme poverty that is claiming lives daily in the global south is will, not ability. we have the resources. we have the methods. we have the scriptural prerogatives. but we don't often have the will. the books that sell the best are about how to make me and my life better and more prosperous. the books that need to be cleared off the shelves are the ones that talk about living the life that Christ calls us to.
in his first sermon at the synagogue at nazareth, he read from the prophet isaiah: 'bring good news to the poor... proclaim release to the captives... recovery of sight to the blind... let the oppressed go free... proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.' (luke 4:14-30 and isaiah 61). the folks in nazareth didn't like this message. they tried to throw Jesus off a cliff. (if you are a preacher or teacher, when was the last time that happened to you?) this message of living outward with contagious compassion is not one that people often welcome. but it is the message that Jesus came preaching.
if Jesus had not lived a compassionate and outward life, we would have nothing. if Jesus had not lived with just generosity, preaching good news and performing good works, sharing food and drink with the hungry, we would have nothing. but as it is, we have everything! let's start giving it away! let's wreck our lives with hospitality and compassion!
Do you want to do it? Can we see what changes will be made just in our circles if we "wreck our lives with hospitality and compassion"? I'm ready. I'm listening and striving to obey.