Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Follow the Leader


Last week while I was working as a noon duty (a less offensive term than "yard duty"), for two days in a row I had a group of boys following me around. At times, there were as many as a dozen of them walking in my footsteps. I asked them why they were following me around, and they told me that it was because of my beard.

Whether or not this was the real reason, I really don't know. (It is plausible, considering I grow more hair in one day than they do in a month) But it got me thinking about 1st Corinthians 11:1, where Paul tells the church in Corinth "Follow my example as I follow Christ."

It got me thinking about who we really follow. We live in a time where conformity is commonplace and people are either too afraid to step out of line for fear of the consequences or are rebels for the sake of being rebels; following out of fear or following because they dont't want to conform.

What about the third option? Following Jesus out of love and adoration; following Him because He's the only thing that makes sense out of this corrupt, stained world.

We all follow something. We might follow the ideal of beauty, money or popularity. We might follow a politician, friend or mentor. But the bottom comes down to which leader are we following with everything we've got? Jesus, or something else?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Red in the face


I’m a little red in the face. Not from any sort of embarrassment, but from a good old fashioned sunburn. While the peeling skin and extra redness is a bit of an annoyance, I did enjoy getting it. This last Sunday, I was able to be a part of a car wash to help raise money for Mission Solano. In the process, we washed over 90 cars (sun fried my brain and I lost the exact count, but I think the exact number was 93) and raised around $560. It was awesome.

But my favorite part was at the end of the day. We had extra water and a food gift certificate that I was able to bring over to a homeless couple across the street. I mean, what kind of ministry would we be doing if we didn’t stop and talk with the people we were raising funds for?

I stayed for a few minutes talking with Barbra and her husband Mel. What I liked most about them was their trust in God. I mean, most people in that sort of situation turn to God because they have nowhere else to go, and as some of them quote scripture, sing a worship song in a phenomenal voice and recount how they set their cell mate in prison on fire all in the same alcohol filled breath (preceding story taken from one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met—in the Tenderloin, of course), you wonder about their relationship with God.

Not this couple. Instead, I was in wonder at their trust. To my eye, all they had in their possession was a bike each, a little bit of food, and a pair of old, tattered clothes. Yet there was legitimate and genuine love and trust of God there. Why is it so hard for us to do the same?

I think it’s because we have our houses, our cars, our nice HD TVs that go so well with our Blu-ray players and collection of movies; we take nice, plush vacations; we have all of our toys and the luxuries of life that make us so comfortable.

But Jesus, in John 14 calls the Holy Spirit the “Comforter.” How can we expect to rely on the Holy Spirit when we artificially fill ourselves with stuff to take His place? How can we expect the Comforter to comfort us when we’re already so comfortable?

Monday, April 12, 2010

What to do?

I was driving the other day and I saw this guy sitting next to a stop sign where shopping center traffic empties onto a busy street. About twenty minutes before I had given the only cash/change that I had on me and two pop-tarts that were sitting in my vehicle to another homeless guy who’d approached me asking for money or food. I really wished that I had had something for the second guy. Then I looked at his sign. He asked for anything—“even a smile helps” his sign read.

As I was driving away from there, I began to really think how much we marginalize, shove off to the side and isolate ourselves from those less fortunate then we are. I think we feel guilty that we have so much and do relatively so little for them. Whether it’s the homeless individual in a parking lot or ethnic cleansings, it’s become all to frequent that we say “Wow, that’s terrible,” and then continue on doing whatever it was we were doing before.

Because of the frequency and the overexposure of tragic and horrific events, we’ve become numb to the figures and forget that behind each figure there is a face. Yeah, occasionally something will come along like January’s Haitian earthquake that killed, according to the Haitian government, 230,000 people and that will elicit enough of an emotional response for us to get off our butts and do something—even if it’s only to get out our wallet out of that back pocket and give a little money. Yet throughout it all, we forget that there are more children who die from starvation each week than people who died in Haiti.

While I think money is a necessary element to solve these atrocities, I don’t think just throwing money at the problem is the best way to go about it. It starts with action. Jesus knew this best (duh…He is Jesus after all). In Matthew 25:35 He said “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” He didn’t say “When I was hungry you gave some money to the United Way, and when I needed clothes you donated to Goodwill.” I mean, when it came to our salvation, Jesus didn’t do some distant charity, He went at it no holds barred and sacrificed Himself so that we can have a relationship with GOD.

I think that same principle needs to be applied to all the evils in the world today. If we quit marginalizing people and remember that there are actual faces to the statistics and actually do something ourselves, then that’ll make a huge difference. It starts with each of us pouring out the love of God and taking an active role in changing this world to look more and more like God’s Kingdom. Even if it only begins with a smile.