Those of you who know me best would probably describe me as energetic, passionate, and analytical. That's me at my best. I'm sure there are others would describe me as loud, overbearing, and serious to a fault. (Isn't it funny how your best qualities can also be some of your worst?) Regardless of what words you use, I often struggle with the passionate vs. pushy, zealous vs. zealot part of my personality. In teaching that shows up as I deal with unmotivated apathatic kids. They are my least favorite style of kiddo to teach. Give me a high energy, bouncing off the wall student any day. In my personal life, it shows up in knowing when to push to get something accomplished and when to sit back and let the details work themselves out. And in my relationship with God, one of the ways I struggle with this is in regards to purpose and calling, specifically when talking about the least of these. This week, I read several things that deal with being passionate and taking action on issues that all Christians are commanded to act on.
It drives me crazy to know that Christians, myself included, have difficulty naming the last time they really "did life" with someone who we might consider a least of these. (I'm taking that from the section of Matthew 25 where Jesus says whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.) I think too often Christians want to say "well, that's not my calling to work with _________" You fill in the blank. The prisoner. The orphan. The widow. The homeless. The sick. But the truth is you are called because the Bible commands it. Matthew 25 discusses anyone in need of food, shelter, and clothing. Matthew 25 continues with those in jail or in trouble with the law. James 1 covers widows and orphans. If you took the time to do a Scripture search for widows and orphans, you would find even more refernces. And they are written as commands. Not as gifts. It does not say "And to some He gave the gift of caring for orphans or the prisoner." We are expected to do something in all of these situations, be it financial assistance, emotional support to those who directly minister to these groups, using our gifts to help, or donating supplies.
I especially think that this is true of people who live in the Western world. I read this week from The Mission of Motherhood, "The level of materialism in America, combined with the availability of Scripture and the freedom to invest our lives for Him, provides us with a heavy weight of stewardship for our own spiritual heritage." What a tragedy to know that we as Americans have much potential to be the change agents for the least of these but we often just keep it to ourselves. And even scarier, the thought that our failure to act is viewed by God as a failure to be a good steward of what He has given us.
Sometimes it's very hard for me not to want to physically shake people, especially when I see major self absorbed behavior. Mostly, I get that feeling when I watch celebrities . (That would be the pushy zealot part of my personality.) But the truth is, there are times when I feel that way about my friends and family. I want my friends and family, strangers and acquaintences to do something. Anything. Don't just sit on your hands while the words "How awful" fall out of your mouth. Do something! I share pictures and websites all the time with my friends and family because I hope the Holy Spirit will convict their hearts to do something. (Mostly, the bossy, pushy me hopes it convicts them to go on a mission trip where their heart will be forever changed but I suppose that's really not up to me.) And it drives me crazy to think that for so many of the people I encounter those words "How awful" will be the only action they take.
I'll leave you with a quote from Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren. "It's very easy for us to remain aloof and untouched by the suffering that defines the existence of the vast majority of people on the planet. I have read that if you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the people in this world! If you have any money in the bank and some in your wallet and some spare change in a dish somewhere, you have among the top 8% of the world's wealthy; 92 percent have less to live on than you do! If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million other people in the world. If you can attend worship services at church without the fear of harrassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. I don't tell you this to make you feel guilty-but I do hope you feel uncomfortable. I hope these statistics disturb you. God in His sovereignty decided where you would be born and allowed you to live in a place that has almost everything anyone could ever desire, so there is no guilt that He has ordered our lives in such a way. The only guilt we bear is ignoring the men, women, and children of this world who do not have what we have-the guilt of spending the majority of our time, money, and resources on ourselevs and our families. That is legitimate guilt."