Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Love Blogs Because of Posts Like This

Photo Source

The whole thing is amazing,
but here are a few of my favorite parts:

...“Loving the poor” doesn’t always have to be scary like “befriending the homeless” or “moving my family to Haiti”, it can be (and often starts as) something small; like teaching a child to read, to use silverware, or just to be present with someone who is suffering. I do believe however, that finding
the poor inside us and around us will always stretch us and grow us. And it will do something else. It will begin to erase the borders between “us/them” and help us see that we are all human beings...

At the end of the day, I don’t believe it is an “either/or” dichotomy. I believe that if we claim to know Jesus, that no matter where we find ourselves on any given day, we would seek out the people that matter most to him: the poor, the vulnerable, the hungry, the suffering; and LOVE them. What does that mean? That means first and foremost, knowing their names. That means getting our hands, and our knees, and our hearts, and even our theology dirty. If American Christians did this, it would be radical, and it couldn’t help but change the world.

Henri Nouwen has some pretty great thoughts about what it looks like to be this radical.
So I’ll leave most of the last words to him:

“Radical servanthood does not make sense unless we introduce a new level of understanding and see it as the way to encounter God himself. To be humble and persecuted cannot be desired unless we can find God in humility and persecution. When we begin to see God himself, the source of all our comfort and consolation, in the center of servanthood, compassion becomes much more than doing good for unfortunate people. Radical servanthood, as the encounter with the compassionate God, takes us beyond the distinctions between wealth and poverty, success and failure, fortune and bad luck. Radical servanthood is not an enterprise in which we try to surround ourselves with as much misery as possible, but a joyful way of life in which our eyes are opened to the vision of the true God who chose the way of servanthood to make himself known. The poor are called blessed not because poverty is good, but because theirs is the kingdom of heaven; the mourners are called blessed not because mourning is good, but because they shall be comforted. Here we are touching the profound spiritual truth that service is an expression of the search for God and not just of the desire to bring about individual or social change. This is open to all sorts of misunderstanding, but its truth is confirmed in the lives of those for whom service is a constant and uninterrupted concern. As long as the help we offer to others is motivated primarily by the changes we may accomplish, our service cannot last long. When results do not appear, when success is absent, when we are no longer liked or praised for what we do, we lose the strength and motivation to continue. We see nothing but sad, poor, sick, or miserable people who, even after our many attempts to offer help, remain sad, poor, sick, and miserable, then the only reasonable response is to move away in order to prevent ourselves from becoming cynical or depressed. Radical servanthood challenges us, while attempting persistently to overcome poverty, hunger, illness, and any other form of human misery, to reveal the gentle presence of our compassionate God in the midst of our broken world.”
-Henri Nouwen, Compassion

And if what 1st Corinthians 12 asserts is true…that we are ALL part of one body…it means that you and I cannot live without those we typically deem “poor” or “needy”. In fact, the astonishing truth is, we need them. If we think that those who are suffering or poor need us, and that we bestow honor on them by pausing from our busy schedules to give them a little time or money….not only is such thinking insulting, it is wrong. The poor in my own community as well as in Haiti have taught me wonderful, life-changing truths about God and his Kingdom. Things I may have never been able to learn any other way. My relationships with “the poor” have made me long for the kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven” with a level of passion I did not know I possessed.

And the truth is, until the Kingdom comes, we all have work to do. Until that promised day arrives, we can all do better. So lets start today…

Get to know your neighbors.
Learn their names.
Look inside yourself.
When Helping Hurts.
Waiting for Superman.
Visit your local soup kitchen.
Sign up as a foster parent.
Visit your local elementary school.

But most of all keep searching for God.
You will find him in the most delightful and unexpected places!
(excerpt from guest post by Sarah Dornbos on Heather Hendrick's blog)


Anonymous said...

This is a lovely post indeed. Sometimes we think that helping the poor has to be something complicated and that requires work but this post is a reminder that it does not have to be. Thank you for these inspiring words.

Maria @ Linen & Verbena

Grace said...

I agree, Maria! I love Sarah's post - I think we (myself included) trap ourselves into doing nothing when we worry about whether or not our efforts are "big" enough. I want to know my "neighbors" more and love them the way God wants me to!