Wednesday, November 18, 2009

a reflection

So I have often had an issue with how I have heard the parable of the raven preached. Luke 12: 24-25 “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” - I kept hearing about how God will not let us go hungry or without shelter, basic needs stuff. At least that is what my ears took in. Yet I was acutely aware of the very real suffering and hunger in the world. Now I know that is not God’s will. So up until the other day I would respond defensively to this passage.

While listening to the Daily Audio Bible reading (Luke 12) I finally heard another understanding of this passage. It was revealed to me within the Chapter as a whole. For me, the key was in the passages preceding and following the raven. 12: 16-21First there is a parable about a rich man who had a wealth of a harvest and was storing it up for himself. God renounces this by saying “‘you fool!” pretty harsh. It says that you have all this stuff stored up, but guess what, you will die this very night and what do you think will happen to all of it? This is saying that those of us who are blessed may be focusing on what we are gaining and the amount in our savings accounts or portfolios not remembering the needs of the poor and forgetting that we are not promised even tomorrow. Those who only think of what they can gain for themselves and put greater values in such things are not preparing themselves for eternity with God. It is shortsightedness.

For us, those who do not have all the answers, definitely me, the world we live in seems much more real than the Spiritual world. Yet the truth is that the world we walk in is only a reflected shadow in comparison to the reality of the Spiritual world / the heavenly kingdom. So to us, who are blessed to have, it is so very difficult to see beyond the grocery list, the shopping, the car and house. We feel a since that we deserve this comfort because we have worked so hard for it. We do not have perspective to understand true suffering in comparison to the bounty of our riches.

So who are we as Christians? Who are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters? I say that these are every member of the human race, Christian or non-Christian. Our neighbors, whom we are to love as we love ourselves, are those who are poor of spirit, of basic physical needs, of love, etc. How many of us have felt the Spirit of the Lord tugging at our heart when we see suffering and think to ourselves “I am going to do something,” but never do anything because we forget about it, don’t have time or latter decide it isn’t that big of a problem. Why do we hesitate? Believe me when I say that I am speaking to myself as much as to anyone else.

What will we say to God when he asks how we lived? We are being asked that very question within this passage. How are we living? For whom are we living? What we are promised is not food and comfort in this world. What we are promised is that if we acknowledge Christ before others in our hearts and in our lives we will be given the Kingdom of God. God knows that we all need food and basic needs, but he has given us charge over the recourses to supply these needs to everyone. To spread our blessings to those who lack. I know that I am very blessed. I am comfortable, even too comfortable. God calls us to make ourselves a little uncomfortable to relieve the great suffering of the mass majority of the world.

James 2: 15-17 “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

This was such an important revelation for me. It filled my heart with great conviction and turned me to God, as I had become distracted recently. I propose that you also read through Luke 12, and give James 2 a look. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on these passages.

1 comment:

tony said...

Yes, our neighbors are all humans. Sick, healthy, poor, rich, righteous and unrighteous alike. When any of these are in need and we are capable of helping, we should. All judgement should be set aside for the Lord and we should persue other's in the like manner we would have them pursue us in times of need.

I have often rationalized why some people are poor or don't have much and at the same time felt okay by it. I do see and hear of people who are deeply in need and yet there is evidence which shows that their problems were preventable and induced by themselves. That was my rationalization - it was their fault.

However, this is the "yeast of the Pharisees" Christ warned about - hypocrisy. Most people (hope that doesn't sound too shallow) will pronounce, "It's good to give to the needy." Yet, where is the fruit? On holidays when we give our pocket change to the bell ringers outside of Walmart? Is that fruit?

I once directed a food pantry for about a year and later got "tired" of the position. I met/helped people who were in need and others who just seemed to want a free ride. That's where the grey area grew for me. I began to feel that there really weren't any "needy" people, just those who were too lazy to provide for themselves and their families.

Pardon the pun, but the food pantry left a weird taste in my mouth after a while. My heart seemed to harden to those "in need" and I started to once again look after just myself and my famliy (which isn't wrong in itself). I'm now in school and working full time on the weekends and part time after classes to provide for the family I believe God knew I would be blessed with. However, I'm really glad I came across your blog (found it through D.A.B. - I'm TonyN09) because perhaps I should give more effort towards those who really need a neighbor's helping hand.

Thanks for sharing and opening my mind, and hopefully my heart, to this matter again.

Peace and Love,