We have a saying around our house that goes something like this, “We’re not running a restaurant here, so you better be happy with dinner.” That statement is usually followed up by one of the kids saying, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” All of the kids have learned this from school. Anyway, I say all of this to say that none of my kids have ever gone to bed hungry for any reason other than their own choice. They have never known what it is like to not have clothes to wear, nor have they ever wondered where they were going to sleep. I have been blessed with a job that allows me to provide everything that they need. Of course, if you were to listen to my kids, they would tell you that they don’t have anything. Isn’t it amazing how we don’t appreciate the things we have when we see so much around us and the things that others have?
Anyway, this weekend, my daughter Brianna had her 5th birthday party and a lot of kids from her school came over to celebrate it with her. As one of the mothers was walking up to the house with my wife, she made a comment that has haunted me ever since my wife shared it with me. After the party was over, my wife came up to me and told me that this lady told her, “Wow, you guys must be rich!” My first thought was that this lady had to be out of her mind. Bill Gates, Al Gore, the owner of the company I work for, those people are rich. I’m scraping by and at times living paycheck to paycheck. But, like I said earlier, I’ve never missed a meal, had to go to work in ratty clothing, or wondered if there would be a roof over my head at night when I went to sleep.
But the reason this has haunted me and why I’m blogging about it is that as she was pulling out of the driveway, I had gone out to help her back out so that she wouldn’t end up cutting a corner too short and putting her truck in the ditch. As she was backing up, I noticed that I could see the cords on her right rear tire. She will probably drive on that tire until it blows out and then change it because she can’t afford to replace it until she absolutely has too. I also was able to listen to the engine on her truck and it didn’t sound all that good either. Again, she probably can’t afford to have it checked out.
I guess what struck me is that here is a woman who came to my house and thinks I am rich. She is a single mom, raising 4 kids on her own, can’t afford new tires for her truck, much less some engine work so that it is a reliable. I guess, when she looks at it from her perspective, I am rich, yet I don’t consider myself to be rich. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining one bit, it’s just that I watch my co-workers get together almost everyday at lunch time and decide where they are going to go for lunch. I have gone occasionally, but it isn’t my preference because every time I have gone, it has cost me anywhere from $7-10 to eat lunch. So, if you do the math, 5 days of lunch at that price is anywhere from $35-50 a week, and that is just to eat lunch.
I can’t even imagine how much more freedom that that kind of money would be to this lady who thinks I am rich. In just the first week, she would be able to replace the tire, in 6-8 weeks, she could probably have the engine worked on to make her vehicle more reliable. But even more important than that, she might be able to give her kids a bit more food and comfort. She brought three of her children over to the birthday party, and while they didn’t look malnourished, they certainly did not have any fat on them like a lot of the other kids who came did.
I guess my point isn’t a call to “social activism” or “equality” like you hear a lot of people talking about today. My point is geared more to the Church that I am a part of and that I love; the Church that says that they love Jesus and want to serve Him. To me, it seems like the Church, at least the Church here in America needs a “plexiotomy” (see definition below) so that we can see the needs right here in our own backyard. Why is it we think that missions is something we need to do for those who live in another country? Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t support missions outside of our country, but there is a huge missions field right here, right down the road, or maybe even just next door to us!
Just spend a few minutes in the Wal-Mart grocery section. Take some time to get out of your own little world and check out the young teenage couple with a baby in the cart walking around with their WIC vouchers trying to figure out what they can get. Take the time to notice that all they have is a few items above and beyond what WIC will allow them to have. Look around at that rusted out smoke bomb beside you at the traffic light. Did you happen to notice that there are 2 or 3 kids sitting in the back seat? Did you notice the look of despair on their faces. I know what you are thinking cause I’ve thought it myself. The only reason they are in this condition is because of the choices they have made. That is so true! But when is the last time you reached out to them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I”m not talking about witnessing to them and telling them that they need Christ as their Savior and Lord. I’m talking about the Gospel of Matthew 25:31-46 (NAS):
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The more I walk with Jesus, the more I’m beginning to believe that we can’t just tell people about Him, we have to be like Him. Is it any wonder that the religious elite of Jesus’ day were so hated and despised? They talked about God, but they didn’t “do” like God. God, in His love for us, has always reached out to us. Even in the garden when man disobeyed, God made it a point to come to Adam and Eve. Don’t think for a minute that he showed up in the garden and didn’t know what had happened. He knew exactly what had happened. When he had every right to totally destroy Adam and Eve for their disobedience, he chose to reach out to them and draw them back. Granted, their actions had consequences just like our actions have consequences today, but He is constantly reaching out to us. Jesus was the ultimate act of reaching out to us. God became man, just like you and I, experienced what we experience, yet did not sin and because He made us uncomfortable by His sinlessness, was murdered! And as a side note, don’t think that in the enlightened day that we live in today, the same thing would not happen if He showed up on the scene today.
Which leads me to my final thought. How are we living our lives today? Do people want to murder you? I’m convinced that if we were to live our lives like Jesus did, some of us would have to give our lives up for Him because those around us would be like those who murdered Jesus 2000 years ago. Now that just isn’t a happy, wonderful thought, is it?
I guess, having said all of this, it’s time for me to either get in line for a plexiotomy, or live the Gospel.
Plexiotomy – (as defined by Jack @ http://www.volconvo.com/forums/general-discussion/8325-humor-political-word-game.html) n. a surgical procedure in which a 6 inch by 3 inch section of the lower stomach is removed from the patient and replaced with a square of plexiglass so that those having had this surgery can see where they are going with their head up their ass. This procedure is most often performed on politicians, CEOs, religious leaders and people who drive 40 mph on the freeway, in the fast lane.