Wednesday, June 27, 2007

~ body more important than clothes ~

When I began going to church, the only Bible I possessed had been given to me by a church I visited while in elementary school (Albuquerque Baptist Temple… the word “temple” is so intimidating). It was a standard red hard-back version and I easily tore it apart during those early days of discipleship. My favorite passage by far was Matthew 6, which eventually came loose from the rest of the book.

I’ve moved that page with me into subsequent Bibles, this little torn and tattered piece of scripture… my security blanket. It reminds me to give, to pray, to fast, to live simply and not to worry. Such sweet, simple words that I still struggle to apply. Guilt is my constant companion. I’ve wasted so much of my life talking and not applying. I don’t help enough people. I don’t know enough scripture. I’m living too selfishly. ………

As I journeyed through Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution recently, I was plagued with the knowledge that I’m the servant who buried the coin. I spent my college days ingesting the words of Ron Sider, John Perkins, Tony Campolo, Jim Wallis… I heard what they were saying as clearly as Shane did. I even traveled all the way to Boston (my first solo trip) to learn about the Christian Economic Coalition and the Christian Community Development Association. I believed in my heart that this better way was possible, and yet I did nothing. I felt really good about my knowledge and idealism, but it did me no good buried in the ground of my own mind.

When you grow up poor, you grow up with a belief that you’re supposed to go to college, make money and become not poor. You’re supposed to buy the things you weren’t able to buy and go places you weren’t able to go and live places you weren’t able to live. After all, that’s what your mother worked three jobs for – so you would have a brighter future. Yet Jesus invites you to give up all of these supposed rights and expectations to freely follow Him. Some days when I’m focused on my own needs and desires and dreams, it seems like a pretty rotten deal. However, on the best days, when my heart and eyes are seeking Him, I can’t imagine living any other way.

More so than expectations, fear has kept me from living as I should. I have become very conscious of my tendency to read the paper a book or the internet, listen to the news, receive reports back from friends scattered to the ends of the earth and take all of that trouble onto my shoulders. I become paralyzed. I can’t do it all, so I do nothing. Perhaps we’ve worked ourselves into a corner by inventing the Information Age. Perhaps God didn’t intend for us to know about so much hurt all at once. Perhaps He knew we would get so overwhelmed that our anxiety attacks would paralyze us from spreading His good news.

To paraphrase the passage, I don’t intend to suggest that God is saying “don’t worry about other countries, because each country has enough trouble of its own”. Jesus told us to GO. We must be obedient to the creator and sustainer of the universes. What I am suggesting is that we do let each day’s trouble be enough, and we do what we can for those we encounter with what we have available. If the Lord provides us with more resources, whether financial, influential, creative or intellectual, we can offer those back to Him by using those to meet the needs around us. But if we aren’t using the resources we already have because we’re afraid they’re not enough, we are letting down our Master.

And if the Lord calls us to go somewhere of greater need, we have to go and be there. Yes there will be troubles back at home, but in the same way each day’s trouble is enough of its own… perhaps each place’s trouble is enough as well. If the Lord calls you to serve Him somewhere else, you’ll have to trust Him to be enough to meet the needs of those you leave behind.

My Father in Heaven knows what others need as much as He knows what I need. He sent His son to die and take on that burden so that they wouldn’t have to and so that I wouldn’t have to. I have to give. I have to pray. I have to fast. I have to seek first the kingdom of God (and there is a lot packed into that statement). When he says go, I have to go. But I do not have to worry.

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