Posted by Kathi on Friday, July 10, 2015
Recently, something has been germinating inside my brain, working its way into my core. This blog isn’t directed at anyone, it‘s a response to a few years of random comments. A reaction to people wondering, “Why travel to 3rd world countries to volunteer, when there are so many volunteer opportunities in our community”. These past few months, I have been listening to messages on compassion and servant hearts. Messages SO poignant, they inspired me to write what has been on my heart. Warning: this blog is meant for followers of Christ. It is a blog about what it means to show compassion to the “least of these”.
One Sunday, the message was about the cost of following Jesus. When Jesus was at the pinnacle of his career (that’s how us business people would describe it) - a man came to him and asked if he could follow Him, be one of his disciples. The successful man went on to explain that he had obeyed all the commandments, he was a good guy and he was ready to follow Christ. Jesus very quickly assessed the situation and detected that the man loved the “good life”. So Jesus explained what it meant to be a disciple. In Luke 14:25 Jesus is very clear about the cost of following him. It is a high cost, but one worth every penny.
We need to abandon everything we hold close. Jesus explained - we need to love God more than we love any and every thing’ AND more than we love anyone else. In other words - we need to get out of our comfort zones , and this is where it gets tricky.
‘Really, am I supposed to love God more than my children, more than my husband, more than my house, my mother, my father, my life’??? Don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling you what it says in Luke 14:25. Now, I am not advocating that we abandon our families to serve God. But I am advocating for us to get out of our comfort zones. Serving the “least of these” does not mean helping out in homeroom or working at the school carnival. These are all good things to do, but they are not serving the “least of these”. A Pastor, I know, explained (I am paraphrasing). ‘It is easy to love and serve our neighbors, not so easy to love the unlovable or the malcontents or the people who are very different from us’. Hence, the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s easy to volunteer or love people just like you – not so easy to cross to the other side. The minute you start to serve the poor, the spiritually bankrupt, the sick, the imprisoned, the orphan, the widow, – your reality changes, your heart softens, and compassion finds a home in you.
I am blessed to work with a group of people who follow Christ’s call. It isn’t easy; they all have families, and they know the sacrifice that comes with stepping out of the comfort zone. When you start to volunteer and serve people that are OUTSIDE your daily environment, well, that’s when compassion develops. It isn’t easy listening to an impoverished mother tell you she doesn’t know how to feed her children. It isn’t comfortable working in a homeless shelter, or holding the hand of a dying patient, or providing mentorship to a prisoner. It makes your heart ache, which increases compassion.
So what’s my point? I am advocating for each of us to take time to assess what God is calling us to do. To step outside our normal routine. To love God more than we love anything else, especially our status quo. To love and to love without boundaries. I am grateful for the teams and volunteers that serve in Haiti. Even going on a week long mission trip gets you out of your environment and opens your heart to what breaks God’s. A mission team member knows that sharing God’s love requires sacrifices and builds compassion for others. If we all took a deep look inside ourselves we would see how much we have to share with the hurting of this world. Step up, step out - compassion will follow and your life will blossom.
As Mother Teresa said: Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. GIVE THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; t was never between you and them.