Thursday, August 7, 2008

Red Letters: Chapter 5 (An Inadequate Response)

And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it reach to you?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
--Luke 10:25-28

My last few discussions on Red Letters, by Tom Davis, have been filled with statistics. I hate to just keep throwing numbers at people because I’m afraid that it’s overwhelming, and you will just feel helpless. I know that the feeling of being overwhelmed is a popular excuse….“there’s so much to do, I just don’t even know where to start.” I think that’s when apathy begins to set in. Another excuse is that we’re just too busy. We juggle family, work, school, church, friends and hobbies so we don’t have time for anything else. When is the last time you spent some time doing something for someone else? Sure, maybe you took your child to the park, or you spent the evening over coffee with a friend who’s having a tough time…those things are enjoyable and easy…right? When is the last time you did something for someone else when it was hard or uncomfortable?

For some reason, I’m thinking about the whole luke-warm Christian thing. What if we’re just luke-warm people? If we see injustice, and do nothing. If we see someone in need and look the other way. Edmund Burke, an 18th-century philosopher once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.” I think Edmund is spot on! We must act!

According to Tom, most of us live in a world of shadows, and we live life hoping to stay in the shadows of comfort and safety. He also says that the two things that keep us lurking in the shadows are discomfort with interruption and fear. (Hmm...sounds like my earlier posts) People are afraid of loss….loss of anything…money, jobs, status, family, friends, reputation, ourselves. And if you’re like me, you constantly play the “what-if” game…what if I look stupid, what if the person is ungrateful, what if I get too involved, what if it changes my life, what if it’s unpleasant, what if my money is involved, what if it is painful, what if it costs me my life? Wouldn’t it be great to never play that game again because you’re living your life fully trusting in the God of the universe?!

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (Luke 6:38)

It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

And in the words of Sir Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

That’s God’s plea bargain…if we honor the things that are on God’s heart, then He will take care of the things on our hearts. If you take care of the orphaned, abandoned, widow or stranger then God will bless you. “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the works of your hands” (Deut. 24:19).

At the end of the chapter, Tom writes about the inadequate response of the church. I’m not going to dig into that, but he does make a good point. He says, “I wonder how much digging it would take to find the church in its purest form—people whose love and compassion for God overflows into the lives of the most needy.” Maybe some of you are saying, “that’s my church”…and maybe for others, this will serve as a challenge. We need to stop being complacent as Christians and as the Body of Christ. We need to run—quickly—from being luke-warm!

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-18)

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