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.

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