Sunday, May 9, 2010

A concern for the wholeness of others...

I became very frustrated today, and it has been growing on me over the last couple of days but this morning in Sunday School I realized why I was becoming frustrated. We were reading a section out of the Book of Order (W-3.5400) and a phrase within this section struck me, "..pat of the ministry of Jesus which the church has been called to continue as one dimension of its concern for the wholeness of people." The "concern for the wholeness of people" is what really struck me. And I attribute this to the work I have been able to do in Appalachia, getting to know an area and serving them because I love them instead of seeing them as someone who needs my service I see them as people who I love and wish to walk alongside in making the world a better place.

I feel like I have grown over the last five months or so, my theology has taken shape and I continue to strive towards a life of wholeness in Christ. This wholeness comes with brokenness as I have tried to put the pieces of my life in perspective and figure out how in the heck I've made it to where I am today. But none the less I know that the only wholeness I can find is in Christ and that is where I seek to find it. I would say that my "concern for the wholeness of people" has also grown in the last five months. As I have studied about oppression, seen oppression, felt the hurt of a community wrecked by oppression, I have grown and I worry about humanity.

The reason these words struck me so hard this morning is because I have been trying to pull together a trip to Nashville to go down and serve alongside others in cleaning up after a flood that has caused many people hurt, pain, loss, and even fear. As I have been planning I've heard many of times "what are we doing down there? What specific jobs will we have?" And as I explain that we are still awaiting word on where we are needed to help I can't help but think why does it matter? The point is, people are suffering, people have nothing, people have to start new, people need our help and that is why we are going. Even if things went totally out of wack and the only thing I got to do down there was sit and listen to someone talk about their fears, struggles, hopes, and dreams, it would be worth every ounce of effort put into the planning. Why? Because I am called to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ in whatever capacity I can in the circumstance I am given.

It does not matter if I build a house or hold a small child, if I sort through donations, or hand a bottle of water to someone who is thirsty, if I listen to the story of how someone came to help or provide a shoulder for someone to cry on. It doesn't matter what capacity I serve in, so long as I am serving in the mind of Christ.
Matthew 25:34-36 says:
"Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

I hope and pray that one day we will stop asking how, why, what, and instead we will just go and do without questioning. When we become selfless in our service, then I think we will be imitating Christ. Until then I hate to say it but I feel like we are going through the motions, and that upsets me. I care about people, I love people, and I hate seeing people suffer. That is why I would gladly drop everything to go and help someone. I see God in everyone around me, the good the bad and the ugly we all are made in the image of God and have characteristics to prove it. I just pray that we start showing them sooner rather than later, so that we can truly be there to serve others when the time comes. After all Christ didn't throw a fit when he had to get a little dirty in helping others, Christ did what He was called to do, selflessly, for the glory of God, for the benefit of others. I can only hope and pray that I come close to imitating the service of Christ.

One of these days, we will all be willing to drop our selfish ways, to go out of our way, to step out of our comfort zones in order to serve a brother or of these days...I long for the day when we all become concerned for the wholeness of our neighbors, when we look out for one another and love one another as Christ loves us. I hope others will hold me accountable in this journey toward wholeness in Christ and being concerned for the wholeness of others.
Thanks be to God that even though we fail, we are still loved, we are still forgiven, and we get another opportunity to wake up and try again tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Living a life that is rooted

Whoa! Life has been crazy over the last few months and I have realized just how easy it is to get so caught up in the things that are going on in life and forget the call to be rooted in Christ. Everyday is a challenge to stop and ask is this a life that is rooted in the one who came to spread the good news, to free the oppressed, to heal the sick, to comfort the mourning, and to give the gift of life?

It is easy to throw around the love I have gained for the people of Appalachia, it is easy to show pictures of myself building a house, but it is hard to look back at the struggles I have had over the last couple of months. For a week I didn't eat and I slept more than I was awake...why? Because I'm growing up and it is scary. But the good news is that all things are overcome through Christ. I have people who love me and people who I love that reach out to me and keep me going time and time again. The realization I made this week is that not only are those whom I love dearly reaching out to me, I am often times like Bartimaeus who sits on the corner and calls out to Christ. Thankfully I serve a God who stops, calls me where I am, and leads me along the road time and time again.

The commitment to live a life rooted in Christ is not an easy one, I don't expect it to be, but it provides a deep joy and desire to press on toward the prize to which we are called and that I hope to do in humility but at the same time with a sense of pride.

Living a life rooted in Christ is what drives me to go to Appalachia and meet AWESOME people, to go back and build a house, to clean up shingles and a roof, to love those others call "hillbilly's" to love those others write off as "good for nothing and lazy, poor, cousin loving, and red necks" and to love them for who they are. They are children of God just like I am, they are made in the image of God and I am to love them with the love of Christ. I have learned so much from Appalachia and my heart is there in those mountains, safe and secure in those mountains at that.

Being rooted in Christ is a long hard road, but the good news in my life is that through it all these roots have grown, I am rooted in a deep soil that provides me with just enough to get through the day showing the love of Christ to anyone and everyone I can. Because of these roots I can say that I am overflowing in thanksgiving. In 23 days I move into an apartment with my best friend, in a month I go to Atlanta for a preaching camp, in 24 days my sophomore year will be complete, and the only thing I can do is sit here and praise God for watering the soil and keeping me going.

I pray that my roots continue to grow and that I continue to reach up, longing to breathe in God's word, ready to go out in service to brothers and sisters around me and around the world.

As a good friend always reminds me,

God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.

May your roots grow deeper in the love of Christ, may your love of others be rooted in the love of Christ, and may the world around you be the recipients of God's amazing love, mercy, and grace.
Be rooted, be strengthened, overflow with thanksgiving and share with those around you!