Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Red Letters: Chapter 2 (This Shrinking World)

I desire compassion, and not sacrifice, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
--Matthew 9:13

Fact: The world is shrinking. The world is shrinking because of globalization (yea, that dreaded word from political science!) and technology. I can sit on my comfortable couch in Atlanta and talk on the phone to my friend in Liberia. I can be in Liberia in less than 24 hours. I can access the internet and read news stories from around the globe—as they happen. The big question that
Tom Davis brings up is, what are we, as Christians, going to do with this truth that the world is shrinking?

We all know the Golden Rule, and if we follow Christ, we should be familiar with Jesus’ command to love your neighbor as yourself. The next question is, are we willing to love our neighbors—and more importantly, are we loving our neighbors with the love of Christ? Besides the fact that Christians are called to love our neighbors, any ‘good’ person would feel inclined to help someone in need. People want to be seen by others as someone who is kind or who makes a difference in the world in which they live. People want to promote change, advocate for things they are passionate about, protect against harm, transform and uplift. And, if you call yourself a follower of Christ, that should be even more of a reason to reach out and help the world around you!

I hope you’re not looking at me and thinking, “easy for her to say…she’s living in Africa and working with orphans.” I just shared in the previous post about my total disregard for God’s command to love the unlovely. So no matter how many times I might say “you”, I really mean “we”.

The point is, we do not comprehend or acknowledge how incredibly, incredibly blessed we are!! It doesn’t matter what your bank statement says, or what your employment status is, or what kind of car you drive or the neighborhood you live in—you are blessed! God has blessed us simply by the fact that we were born in this country! I’m assuming most of us are in the U.S., but if you’re anywhere in the Western world, first-world or in a developed nation—you are blessed!

We have an overabundance of everything! Even if you’re saying, “but I’m poor, I don’t have any money”—you are sitting in front of a computer, accessing the internet and reading this, aren’t you? I believe there is a difference between poor and poverty. Poor is not being able to acquire the things we want. Poverty is not being able to acquire the things we need…the things that are needed to survive. And no, I’m not Webster’s—it’s just my opinion.

I have seen poverty. I have seen naked, hungry and sick. I have had to struggle to find the right words to explain to children why they haven’t eaten in a few days. I have shown up at an orphanage without food, and debated whether or not to play duck-duck-goose…should the children be able to smile and laugh for awhile, or should they save their energy because they are hungry? I have held naked, dirty children. I have sat at the bedside of a sick child, rubbing their back because there’s nothing I could say or do to make them well.

Fact: 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day and almost 3 billion people live on less than $2 per day.
Fact: Almost 2.5 million children die each year because of malaria.
Fact: Hunger kills a child every 7 seconds.
Fact: Poverty is preventable!

Not only do most of us have an abundance, many of us have an overabundance. Why aren’t we doing more? Why are we doing nothing at all? What are we waiting for? If we, as followers of Christ, sit back and watch, how can we expect anyone else to take action and do something?

As Tom points out, the main reason we should be compassionate to our neighbors is because it glorifies God. I don’t know about you, but when I pray, I ask God to enable me to glorify Him more—especially in the simple, less-noticeable areas of my life. What better way to glorify our Creator than to love His creation?! Matthew 5:16 says, “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” When our light shines before men, we not only glorify God, but we also can inspire others to let their light shine too.

Instead of living a life where you’re always searching for bigger and better, try living your life by asking yourself daily what you can live without so that someone else might simply live. Also, ask yourself how you can use your time, gifts, talents, money and resources to love your neighbor. And if you’re like me, you have to continually ask God to give you more compassion!

As God reveals to you how you should love your neighbor, don’t sit back because you’re afraid or you don’t know how—just do something! If you’re ready, willing and available to be used by God, He will guide and direct you. God led me to Liberia because I made myself available. Even though I love the children of Liberia, trust me, I don’t always love Liberia. It’s not easy or comfortable or glamorous! But I’m following Christ and my heart is full. I have experienced joy, love, sadness and heartache—but I have drawn closer to the Father and I have a better understanding of His heart to reach those living in poverty.

I realize that not everyone is called to pack up and move to Africa, but everyone is called to do something! Yes, us lucky ones are called to go (lucky because we get to experience firsthand). Others are called to pray. And still, there are others who are called to encourage and support. Some are called to give sacrificially or financially (with a joyful heart, right?). Some people are called to reach their neighbor next door, while others are called to reach their neighbor on the other side of the world. I think you get the idea, but the bottom line is that we are all called to take part in this great big puzzle of a thing called the Body of Christ. We must do something—big or small—quickly, because our neighbors are dying.

Come back tomorrow for Chapter 3!


Brandi said...

Can I just say Amen? And, yes, I do think you are lucky!

Great post!

mona said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hannah said...

Hey Ashley... you don't know me, but I found your blog through Tom Davis... he's my bro in law. So, I wanted to send a hello your way! :) How did you get Red Letters way out there? Are you back in the US right now? I was in Swaziland, Mozambique, and S. Africa last summer for a few months with a trip called the World Race (you can check my profile for the link : ). How do you know Brandi? I'm super curious, as you can see. I hope to hear from you! Smiles. Blessings your way...
With joy,