The American Way
Recently, your fearless leaders at Grace met for their monthly meeting to discuss all things relating to Grace Groups and community. My husband, John Green, brought everyone up to date on his recent trip with another church (gasp!) to the Houston area to serve some of the folks whose homes had been devastated by Hurricane Harvey weeks before.
He spoke of many residents who were struggling to allow the team to do the work needed to help them safely inhabit their homes again and move forward. They were hesitant to have drywall removed from the studs so that the frame could be treated for mold. The team had to explain that just nailing new drywall to the frame would continue to allow mold to grow and would likely make them very ill. Most were in shock and were
Our lives are to be built around faith and trust in God’s guidance and to be placed in a posture of dependence upon God and one another.
worried about the cost to repair their homes, how long they would have to live without proper walls.
This got some of us thinking about some spiritual parallels: how we might choose to create our own safe place where, as Teresa Cornett puts it, “if we don’t see it or smell it, we can deny it’s there.”
There are calamities around the world; many suffer because of war, poverty, oppression, abuse, inequality, marginalization. Yet we don’t really feel burdened to care. Teresa continues, “There are long-term consequences to living in denial when we are aware of problems, yet cover them up.”
Can we continue to rationalize painting over drywall and ignoring the problem behind it? Is it right to spend our time and money on creating the perfect Pinterest fall décor when we know there are people who don’t have access to clean water everyday?
These are the kind of things we should wrestle with. Why? Because there are hundreds of verses in Scripture about caring for the poor/marginalized/widow/orphan/refugee and warnings against the love of money. Because this is integral to living the life of Jesus. If we call ourselves believers, then we should wake up, take note of what the needs are, get involved and GIVE.
The American Dream is a wonderful thing, but it can quickly become a false religion where we worry most about ourselves and our comforts. I’m not saying that if you work hard that you don’t deserve all you have; I’m saying that we are all guilty, myself included, of mismanaging our God-given resources. I think at times we say the plight of others is just as important as our own, but if that is really true, why do we tend to give our leftovers instead of our first fruits, give what we think we can live without instead of giving generously and trusting God to provide? Why do we need a bake sale cookie in order to throw money towards a campaign?
It’s more than just money; it’s also other resources, such as talents, gifts and time. Some may think they don’t have anything to offer, or shy away from tasks that seem hard. We don’t like “hard.” We don’t like sacrifice. And it’s scary: What if I have to do something that is uncomfortable? What if God ends up calling me to do something and I actually have to change my life? What if I have to really live on faith, dependant on God and others? Americans pride themselves on independence and autonomy, being masters of our own destiny. But you see, Jesus wants us to live a life with LESS autonomy and MORE interdependence. Our lives are to be built around faith and trust in God’s guidance and to be placed in a posture of dependence upon God and one another. We are made for community, but we tend to gravitate away from it. We are part of the Christian community and the community of neighbors both near and far.
There’s so much need in the world—Jesus is the answer, and He has trusted us to carry out His mission. We have to be aware, and we have to care. We have to learn the ways of living with sacrificial hearts, willing to give our time, our talents and our finances to keep His mission moving forward. We cannot counsel others to live in gutted and exposed homes, treat their unseen ills and not ask ourselves to do the very same thing. It’s time to expose and treat what is in fact making our hearts sick and restricting the work of God.
Church, it’s time to take stock of our hearts and take action.
Lesley Green is a nurse at Lakeside Junior High School. She and her husband John have attended Grace Church since 2001. Lesley is passionate about missions work, and she adores her family and her two dogs.