“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” 1 John 4:4.
I have a confession: I am angry. Righteous anger. I am angry with people who walk around pretending to be happy and have it all together; people who put a false face to the world trying to show that they are happy and successful. Oh, they can fool others, but not the Lord. Because the Lord sees straight through the façade – He sees through the pride and ostentatious pretense of falsity. It angers me because there is so much more for them. I know, because I used to live that way too. Through fear they are paralyzed from believing in the love and grace of God. And this prevents them from experiencing the freedom that is theirs for the taking. Christ’s gift is free; it just requires us to be authentic with Him and others. This takes transparency.
This lack of freedom also paralyzes people from action. We all have excuses and I am not free from that either. But I am sick of it. Obedience to Jesus is radical and it will not make sense to the ways of the world. Not one lick of sense. We hide behind religiosity and terms like being a good steward; it is just not the right timing; I just can’t right now because I have too many responsibilities; I don’t have the money.
One story that I have never forgotten comes from my ex-brother-in-law. There was a famous gospel singer who was traveling with a buddy and they stopped to get a bite to eat at a diner. The waitress they had gave terrible service forgetting simple items. They asked her if she was all right. She said no…she just found out she had cancer. Now this particular gospel singer always carried around a wad of cash. After they paid their bill, the gospel singer went back to the table and left the whole wad of cash for the waitress. The buddy asked him, “Do you know how much money you left?” The gospel singer replied, “I have no idea and I don’t care.”
Gracious giving. What is our response?
I try to give sacrificially. I pray, and I pray, and I give. Sometimes I sit on the prompting from God for weeks to make sure. Sometimes it hits me instantaneously and I have to immediately act. It does not make sense to me why God places certain burdens on my heart. It does not make sense that God would ask me to give sacrificially when I have so little to begin with. But God has prompted me to do it, and so I do it. If I really believe in the promises of God, then I know that I will be taken care of. Do we really believe that? Do we really live that way? I confess that although I do try to live that way, it causes anxiety. It’s about trust. Do we really trust the Lord?
This past week, Cambodia was hit with another tragedy. They have had major flooding that has killed many. More are displaced from their homes because they either have been swept away or under water. Rice fields are flooded and no longer a source of food or income. Disease is rising as people wade through bacteria laden water. Disease is rising as people drink unclean water. Hunger is increasing because there is no food to eat.
What is our response going to be? Are we going to act or are we going to stay secluded in our life of living the American dream?
Coming back from Cambodia puts a lot of things in perspective. Everything seems quite superficial here. The things we spend money on – coffee, eating out, flowers, sporting events, vacations, jewelry, houses, furniture, clothes, and vehicles – these things make no sense in most of the world. What have we lost in America?
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not advocating living a hand to mouth lifestyle. And being a good steward is important. But it is not the most important. Jesus calls us to radical abandonment. He called the disciples to abandon their vocations and livelihood. He called the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He called people to leave their families; to have others bury the dead. These are radical ideas. They were radical in Jesus’ day and they are radical now. You see, whatever we feel like we cannot part with is an idol. Oh, they can be good and Godly things, but if we hold onto them and cannot part from them, they are indeed idols.
So what is our response going to be with the tragedy in Cambodia? I would love to jump on a plane and take a bunch of humanitarian items with me. I would love to work hand in hand with orphans, widows, and prostitutes giving aid and helping in any way possible. There simply is not money for that. But we do offer a response.
If you feel called to give for this tragedy, please click on the donation button on our website. We have a project with our missionaries in country that is giving away water purifiers. In the memo line just write H20, so that we know where to appropriate that money. We appreciate any donations more than words can express.
This goes back to my question, though, on our response: what are we willing to do and what are we willing to give? Please prayerfully consider sacrificial giving.
This is radical living and radical obedience. It is authentically living with our Lord and living with others. Transparency. Joy. Grace. Unconditional Love. Sacrificial giving. I am reminded of the holiness and grandeur of the Lord, and how I am unworthy; unworthy because I am unclean. Only through God’s incredible mercy, through the sacrifice of his only son, do we become worthy and free. But there is more. You see, when Jesus touches us, really grabs our heart, it changes us from the inside out, and we are never again the same. Our life is not our own.
Go, and walk in freedom.