Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The World of Give and Take

Francis Chan offers the following "People who are obsessed with God are known as givers, not takers. Obsessed people genuinely think that others matter as much as they do, and they are particularly aware of those who are poor around the world."

Right now it seems as though everyone is ready to give a little, or a lot, in the wake of the Haitian earthquake. I applaud the efforts people are undertaking. In moments of great tragedy, I find there is still hope for our world. Nations and people alike are finding resources in the midst of tough economic times to help out the people of Haiti. I wonder what the fervor will be like in a year? Well what was it like a year ago?

Tragedy highlights the needs of the poor, and Haiti is the poorest country in the hemisphere. While hope is highlighted as well another side of humanity is drawn into the light. In moments of crises we care, but in the day to day we tend to have a disregard for those who are poor. Sure we might see them, but we do not see them. We know they are there, but we do not know them. The average person only sees the need to be in ministry with the poor during times such as these. Our challenge as Christ followers is found in that we are not called to be average. We are called to be obsessed. Jesus went out of his way to be with the poor. Please note that is not to minister to the poor, rather to be with them. It would only make sense the followers of Jesus would do the same.

As we gear up and meet the demands of this tragedy, I hope and pray we will be the followers in full force. That there would be ab outpouring of financial resource and material resource. My hope is there will be a great number of people ready to be in ministry with the people of Haiti, both poor and not as poor. More than that, I hope we will become obsessed with ministry with the poor. Let us not wait for the crisis of our world, rather may we look daily upon those who need obsessed people to come along side for the journey. Anything less and I wonder if we are not fulfilling our calling to be obsessed followers of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Service To Others

After a New Years break we are now back at it. Today's guiding thought from Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love is, "People who are obsessed with Jesus do not consider service a burden. Obsessed people take joy in loving God by loving His people."

I have to confess this one hurt this morning. I was hoping for a quote that would allow me to convict others more than myself. Yesterday was one of those ministry days that started way too early and ended way to late. As the day wore on I was was wearing down. Once the mid-afternoon blood sugar low set in, I was ready to retreat to my office to preview a DVD for consideration of a future class. As I settled in they started coming. Our food pantry has hours on Wednesdays and the person who was working it was running late. Before I knew it there was a small crowd waiting to receive food.

I convinced myself they can wait, I have some really important things to do. I tried to focus on the project in front of me but I kept looking at the clock and seeing people patiently waiting for their opportunity to eat that night. Finally I pushed away the video and went out to serve the folks in need. My confession, I did it with an absence of joy. Here I had an opportunity to show love to people who God has sent my way, and all I could think about was not wanting to be doing it. This morning as I reflected on the words of Francis Chan, the cut was deep and true. I have so far to go before I can enter the ranks of the obsessed.

I find comfort and fear in the thought that I am not alone. I am sure there are many who are striving to live the obsessed life, but just cannot seem to get there. Along the way there are gains and there are setbacks, and the gains feel great while the setbacks hurt. Nonetheless the joy is not in the completion, it is found in the journey. Yes it is tragic I struggle so with being obsessed with the giver of life and being. More tragic is the number of people who identify themselves with God, yet are not even on the journey of obsession.

Whether it is professional ministry, or more importantly, the work of every baptized Christian, we all struggle in service. In moments which show our connection with God, we long to serve and be used by God. Other moments are perhaps neutral, and even more are an act of the will. We force ourselves to do what we know is the call of God to creation. The key is moving from and act of the will, to an act of joy based in our obsession of the One who calls us.

I wonder how many people, and churches do things out of perceived obligation? We must provide food for the hungry, clothes for the naked. We must do this or that or God will be angry with us and zap us. While we might not use these words, that is the sentiment I find in myself from time to time. What might happen if we, the followers of Christ, became obsessed? If we did things not do delay God's wrath, or because we should, rather because we live for it.

Serving others is not always easy. Whenever people are involved there will be struggle and conflict. Sacrifice will be required and, people will not always be happy, much less appreciate, the effort. We will grow tired and weary. The desire to give up will be more than we can bear from time to time. That is where the joy of obsession comes in. We can choose to persevere with joy. Service to others is the greatest form of showing the love of God.

May we, the church, become an obsessed people. May we serve people not out of obligation or fear. May we serve people because of the love God has infused our life with. May we be obsessed.