Taking our blessings for granted
I sat in church one Sunday morning and as I looked at my fellow church goers, God showed me something: a collection of people burdened by life's problems - some seeking comfort, some merely existing, while others otherwise occupied by children or their cell phones. Everyone was wearing their Sunday best though - sitting in an air-conditioned gorgeous church on a hot summer day - a two-hour pit stop before families pile into their cars and head home to beautiful homes filled with laughter, love and lots of food for a Sunday dinner.
For a lot of Americans - this is the norm - this is the comfortable and incredibly blessed life we live. This is the life I live.
But, on that Sunday, God showed me what's wrong with this scenario. We have so much - in fact, we have everything - yet we're still burdened and often distant in our relationship with God. We seek comfort and we're perfectly okay with a blessed, but ordinary existence. Sometimes, when we hear a missionary speak in our church or see an ad on TV - we feel a bit guilty though so we donate a few dollars to a good cause - and maybe utter a prayer for the safety and work of the missionaries in third world countries, taking care of the poor and sick.
And then we repeat our weekly routines.
Stephanie posted this video she made a few weeks ago of a missionary trip. Take a minute to watch it.
"I see so many young people growing up in the most blessed nation in the world and taking it for granted and I don't think that's what God intended when He blessed us. I think He blessed us to be a blessing."
I loved that quote from one of the interviewees - because, she's right. This is what God intended:
"Do not go into the way of the Gentiles and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But, go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food." -Matthew 10:5-10
It's that simple - go out into the world and give all your love and efforts to someone else. Don't worry about the details - God has it under control. Just do as Jesus did. That is why you live in the US right now. That is why you are blessed.
I ache at the thought that because of my selfish desire to live a happy, comfortable, successful blessed life - that some child somewhere - whether right here in my town or far away in Africa is dying of malnutrition. That I have so much and someone else doesn't.
Yes, God cares and provides for every single one of us. But, sometimes, He needs us to accomplish it, and if I'm too comfortable and too busy living my blessed life to go do His work, then I am solely responsible for the unsaved souls, the hungry and homeless I was created to love and care for.
No, I don't think this means every one of us should become a missionary and travel the world helping people in third world countries. Yes, this may be a calling for some of us. But for most of us? Our calling is right here where you are at this moment. In this city. In this small town. On your college campus. At your church. At work.
I love this quote:
"The unloved and unlovely of this world are often invisible to those of affluence."
Isn't that so true though? I think in our comfort, we've grown blind to the needs in our families, churches and communities, because at the surface, everyone looks happy, safe, healthy and well-fed.
So this week, I urge you to pray for guidance - for the Lord to open your eyes to the needs of the people around you, to show you how and where you can minister right where you are in your life. Is there someone who has been bed-ridden for some time now in your church? A new mother who would appreciate a helping hand whether it's a few hours of baby-sitting, a baked dish or your cleaning services for a few hours? A teen in your church who needs a mentor and a listening ear? A family who has been struggling financially due to the economy/job loss/health issues? A woman battling illness who would love a day out at the spa?
But above all, how many people do you know that don't have a personal relationship with the Lord? How many of your friends aren't consumed by His glory? How many of your family members only come to church once on Easter and spend the rest of their time in worry and the pursuit of material wealth? How many of your neighbors have no idea you're a Christian?
Share your blessings. And I promise sunshine will fill your life - your personal burdens will be so much lighter to carry and Jesus will look down at you with the full force of His love. Because what we do for the least of these, we do for Him.
Yes, we are blessed, incredibly so. But, we're not meant to hog this wealth and prosper in our comfort. No, we're meant to discount it for nothing and give, give, give until there seems to be nothing left to give. Then our church pews will be filled with unity, friendship and unconditional love. And when we come together on Sunday morning, our songs of praise will be like sweet nectar to our Lord.
What can you give up today for someone in need? Where can you spread His gospel right where you are at this moment?