Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spent Extravagantly

Last week I discovered this blog completely on accident as the author is not a friend of mine or anyone that I know. I read this entry and was overwhelmed as I understand it and feel myself churning in this direction:

Those of us who spend our time focusing on the poor, the oppressed and those who serve them are sometimes confronted with grim realities. The fact is that there are too many problems out there...there are too many children that need help...there are too many women and children who are stuck in sex-trafficking and too many people starving. So, you read a book or you adopted a child or you went on a trip and you were overwhelmed with poverty and injustice. You never imagined that things were so bad. You couldn't believe how cheap it was to solve individual problems - medicines for less than $10, mosquito nets for $5, school fee that are less than your monthly starbucks budget. You thought to yourself - I have to do something - I am GOING to do something.

You return to America or you finish your book and your mission begins. You start telling your spouse or your best friends. This is unbelievable - we have to do something now. We have to act. Some of them seem interested but most of them try to wait it out hoping you will get over this latest obsession. But you know in your heart this is not an obsession - it's a calling. It is a new awareness that the kingdom of God has to extend out from you and reach the least of these. You keep going.

Your friends initially tolerate you and then some just quietly phase you out but you are undeterred initially. You press on KNOWING people will want to make a difference. You start reading the Bible with fresh eyes and asking yourself why you had never seen that or read that before? Why did I not hear this in church? You listen to sermons with fresh ears and you hear the repetitive beating of a drum that seems to resound with a self-centered rhythm. It isn't supposed to be all about me is it God? Why are we only focused on making our great lives even better when kids are starving, when young children are being prepared for sexual exploitation every two minutes? I guess that will all just go away if I can truly develop the purpose driven life right? Or if I just keeping doing more bible studies with my accountability group?

For some of us, the hard reality is that we simply need to move on from some of our old ways and old friends into the fullness of the gospel. The true religion that we know He is calling us too. You won't be popular but quite frankly neither was Jesus among the religious crowd. You may find yourself test the patience of some of your closest friends who would just rather plan their next big vacation and not hear about the sexual exploitation of children or starving kids or children who are alone and without love or hope. That stuff is just too hard and depressing and doesn't fit with the trajectory of my life that God is making so pleasant and easy.

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that everything we do will have an eternal impact in the lives of individuals and it matters. Your small choices can make a big difference in the lives of the hurting. The bad news is that you will not be popular, it will not be easy, you will lose friends, people will tire of you constantly beating the drum for the cause of justice. People will avoid you and criticize you and tell you to lighten up. But, I want to challenge you. I want to challenge you to be a louder voice than you have ever been. I want to challenge you to scream for those who have no voice. I want to challenge you to ask God to use you in places and in ways that others don't want to. I want to challenge you to fight against the apathy that plagues our churches and society. I challenge you to be His hands and feet to the least of these. I challenge you to allow your life to be a seed - which falls to ground and dies and in so doing it produces much fruit. I challenge you to swim against the current of our church culture that seeks to find comfort in a personal gospel and personal salvation and passionately pursue God with a reckless abandon for those that are helpless. I pray that we would have the spirit of a warrior that has counted the cost and said with boldness - Lord I give you my life today - ALL of me - spend me extravagantly on the poor and the oppressed.