“There is plenty on this earth to suit our needs. There will never, ever be enough to satisfy our greed. Weigh this heavy on me now till I can hardly breath. Love through me. I’ve never gone a day without a meal because I couldn’t afford it. Or stood on a corner and begged for pennies holdin’ out a sign. Well call me blessed, but it sure does feel pathetic when children around the world are hungry now. So would I give up pillows and cable, clothing and candy, if a boy could rest his tired bones? Would I lay down making all this money, just to have my milk and honey, if my fellow man could get the chance to watch his children grow. There is plenty on this earth to suit our needs. But there never ever be enough to satisfy our greed. Weigh this heavy on me now till I can hardly breath, love through me. Love through me. I feel in the right, self justified. Giving coins away. But what about the time I considered mine not tomorrow but right now, today. Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, welcome strangers. Get up and open your eyes. So would I give up pillows and cable, clothing and candy, if a girl could have some more to eat. Would I lay down making all this money, just to have my milk and honey, if my fellow man could get the chance to hear about the king? There is plenty on this earth to suit our needs, But there will never ever be enough to satisfy our greed. Weigh this heavy on me now till can hardly breath, love through me. Love through me. And help us see, our eyes are weak. Help us, please, love through me. Love through me.”
It’s easy to care, but its hard to do something about it. It’s easy to look at pictures of scrawny brown kids sitting in dusty poverty on your laptop, and shed a sympathetic tear; but it’s also easy to move to your next search window and finish your $4 coffee. It’s easy to feel inspired looking at an uplifting quote overlaid on a picture of a sunset; but it’s also easy to keep scrolling through your Facebook feed for another half hour. It’s easy to feel discouraged about the number of displaced children in your community, it’s hard to actually give the effort to make a difference in the life of one of them. It’s hard to let things change you. To not only make you feel inspired, but to be inspired to action. It’s messy to care enough about people to do something to help them.
Whenever I get home from working at a charity school in a New Delhi slum I feel filthy in a way I’ve never known before. The children are so dirty. And the more they love you, the dirtier they make you. The more the rub up on you, give your cheeks sloppy kisses, sit on your lap, hold your hand, stroke your hair, the more they share their filth with you. The more we love each other, the filthier we get. But it’s like that to love needy people. It’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s easy to say let the little children come to me, until you’re being nuzzled by one with open infectious sores, matted eyes, and lice.
People are messy. And the needier they are, the messier they are. And way too many times we let that scare us away. We’re afraid to get entangled in other people’s problems, frightened by the possibility that God might call us to something uncomfortable. He might ask us to give up just a little too much. So we shut our eyes. We give our ten percent every sunday afternoon and we self-justify to smooth our ruffled conscience. We make the best excuses.
Why are we so scared to follow a call to give like crazy and love even when it gets messy? There’s a whole world out there of people who need to be loved and adventures that need to be had. The call of a radical life should be exciting and, yes a little bit scary, but all the best things in life are. God doesn’t want His people stagnant, clean, and comfortable. The other day in a bible study I was trying to explain to a guy who was just learning English what David meant when he said he was a sojourner. After a bit of explaining His eyes lit up a bit with understanding and he said “Oh you mean a Nomad.” We’re called to be sojourners. Nomads. Hopeless wonders on the earth. Because it’s not our home. Our houses aren’t our home. Our stuff isn’t our stuff. Our money isn’t our treasure. All of that is waiting in heaven. All we have now is what God has loaned us for a bit to see what good we can do with it for the little while we’re here.
But that’s not how we treat it.
The average American spends roughly around $850 on soda, $1,100 on coffee, $348 cable, $408 on tobacco, $300 on jewelry, $1,452 on clothes in a year. In 2013 the average American high schooler spent $1,139 on prom. And yet we pour a bit of water on our heads in the middle of summer to avoid giving money to charity and feel like we’ve actually done something. We click share on a video or news article and pat ourselves on the back. Good for us. If only they awarded Nobel Peace prizes for slacktivism.
How much do you do? Really?
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.” ~C.S. Lewis
Do you ever find yourself saying, I would buy X, but i’ve given away too much money to be able to afford it now. Do you have to turn down a social event, vacation, or outing, cause you’v made a commitment to give your time to a worthier cause? Modern American society lives in an abundance that I can only describe as embarrassing. We are one of the most abundant, wealthy, and prosperous nations in the history of the world. And what's more we claim to be a Christian Nation. But really, what do we, as a society, actually do to make the world a better place?
"If this is going to be a Christian Nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then just admit that we don't want to do it." ~ Stephen Colbert
“Then Jesus said to His host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the Righteous” Luke 14:12-13
That poor, lame, crippled, blind guy isn’t exactly the most fun dinner guest.That homeless man on the corner, that socially disordered pre-teen at the children’s home, and the single mom from a trailer park aren’t exactly going to look so great at your brunch. The Africans dying of Ebola, and the member’s of Christ’s body being slaughtered in North Korea, the middle east, and Africa sure can’t do a whole lot for you in return.
“It’s not that we don’t know or we’re not shown the proof of poverty. its not that we don’t have the tools to go to break this yoke of slavery. We quit because it’s not an easy fix, and then forget that they are even there. We forget to care.” 2
Sure you feel sorry for these people. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. But they and the millions of others just like them need more than your compassion. They need more than the pity of an elite caste thousands of miles away. They need food. They need clothes. They need books. They need clean water and schools.They need teachers and doctors and nurses. They need mommies and daddies. They need people to be willing to give more than menial monthly check to a handful of organizations. Will you help them? Will you actually sacrifice something to give more to them than you previously thought you could? Will you give them a month, a summer break, a semester or even a year? Will you buy a plane ticket for someone who will? Will you take them into your home, call them son or daughter, adopting them as God adopted you? Will you give until you’re uncomfortable, so they can live life a little less miserable? Will you give up coffee or cable, so that they can have water and an education? Will you be willing to get dirty, to show them the love of the one who can make them clean?
Will you be humble enough to actually do something? To follow the footsteps of Jesus, breaking molds and conventions, to love the people who most need it? To not just be inspired, but inspired to action?
1 Jenny And Tyler, Love Through Me
2 Jenny And Tyler, Faint Not