Archive for January 15th, 2008
The comments were laced with sarcasm and cynicism. “If Jesus loves the children, then why do so many of them suffer in the world today? Did they do something in a former life that made them deserve their suffering? Oh yeah, you aren’t the ones who believe in reincarnation …”
Unjust suffering, especially the suffering of children, is a soul-searching subject and not addressed with trite slogans or easy answers. I wanted to let the guy know, however, that it was our job to bring an end to the unjust suffering of children. My words would have been wasted on him, I’m sure. He wasn’t seeking truth, he was wanting to take a jab at religion, and Christians in particular.
However, I believe the message he triggered in my heart wasn’t meant for him, but for me … and us, those who claim to be followers of Jesus. We have to be different than the religious leaders who walked by the suffering man on the road to Jericho in Jesus’ story about the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37). We have to be people who do things God wants of us, but we have to know that the most important things he wants of us are living with “justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42 — our daily Bible reading today is Luke 11).
I’m not sure why, but we resort so easily to practicing the tenets of our faith while losing the heart of God behind that faith. Our faith becomes a religion, focused more on the rules and regulations than on the will of God. That’s why Jesus confronted the religious host who had invited the Lord over for a meal. The Lord’s host appears to have invited him to check on how well Jesus kept the religious rules. As the religious leader discovered, Jesus didn’t do religious rules very well: the Lord was focused on the needs of people. So to the hosts unspoken criticisms, Jesus replied:
//Inspiration: Luke 11:41
But now as for what is inside of you — be generous to the poor and everything will be clean for you.
In this context, Jesus is offering a trio of attitudes to offset the stiff, religious, rule-making he encountered all around Him. Justice, love, and generosity are the three qualities of this trio. But are these three actually priorities in my life as I try to follow Jesus? Am I living these out in the way I spend my money, allocate my team, focus my teaching, work in my community, train my children, or choose a political candidate? How much does this trio command the attention of our church, our ministries, our vision, and our budget?
With the upcoming trip to Uganda with Compassion International to try to find sponsors for children in need, I feel God is giving me an international outlet to continue my growth in these precious three marks of faithfulness to the character and compassion of God. But, how I am going to reflect these priorities at home? This is a question I must answer, and not just intellectually, but in terms of how I live my daily life in my own city, neighborhood, and family!
O LORD God, use your Holy Spirit to work on my heart and mold it to see people and their needs as you do. Please give me wisdom to know how I should help others in tangible ways and demonstrate your generosity, justice, and love. In Jesus’ name, and for His sake, I pray this prayer. Amen.