Great and Unsearchable Things

Things the Lord gives me, and then I write them.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Opening Our Hands

     "Preference is a luxury of the rich." The awareness of this truth became starkly apparent to me whenever I reflected on the way most of us, as Americans, view and experience life. In our food choices, we say, "I like my hamburger with mustard and pickles only," while another person says, "I only eat mine on wheat buns," and another quickly retorts, "I'll take mine without a bun because I'm trying to watch my weight," and then finally someone says, "I'm a vegan, and eat no animal products at all so I'll just make me a salad out of the lettuce and tomatoes. Have you got any other veggies I can cut up to add to it?" expecting fully that you do. After  all, we are in the land of plenty.
     My husband and I have been to India three times, and have only begun to know of the poverty there. We have seen the beggars at the railway stations and out in the public square, signaling to each other if an American decides to give them money. We have done this only to realize the havoc it caused when beggars, with babies in tow, swamped the vehicle we were riding in. We did not regret giving to them though, because if only one got money to buy their next meal, then it was worth it.
     When we go there, we have been somewhat shielded by our host's protection, as they know how their fellow countrymen, when they see an American, may try and take advantage of us. When they see "white," they see "green," as they realize we are indeed rich, even if we don't. We tend to compare ourselves to those in the whole world who have so much more than we do, and get a warped perspective. But,  we, as Americans, are in the top third of the world's rich; therefore, we are rich.
     Recently, troubled stirred in the ministry we had been associated with, and division happened in what was once one group. On either side were poor pastors and their families, we had grown to love and care for. So for a length of time, we stopped supporting some of the people in order to seek God as to what we should do. Confusion reigned as each side told tales about the other ones, eating away at our trust. Still not wanting to "pick" a side, and to not judge before the appointed time in which God will judge (I Cor. 4:5), we stayed in contact with our brothers and sisters in the faith through email on both sides.
     We came to know that some of their families' had experienced hunger during this time, as we had been their only means of support. That is why I said we have only begun to see the poverty in India for what it is. We never even thought that removing our support from them would result in them being hungry. I guess our mindset doesn't even think in that way because we've never experienced hunger. Even in our own personal, worst circumstances, which got pretty bad at one time, we always had food for every meal.
     So, when we prefer our food a certain way, so many around the world only have two choices: to eat or not to eat, and that depends on if they have the money to buy the food. Living in our glass houses, and choosing not to make ourselves aware of the poor, is akin to "heaping it on ourselves," or "storing our goods up in barns" as Jesus cautioned us against. If we continue to blind ourselves to others' plight who are less fortunate, I feel ,will feed our own selfish tendencies, resulting in hardening our hearts.
      I'm reminded of the people's heartcry recorded in II Kings:6, when there was a famine in the land. Some lepers came upon some food and provisions, and then realized that keeping it to themselves was "wrong." They reasoned that because they had found these things, even calling it "good news" that they should tell others about it and share.
     The timeless principle that we (American Christians) have been "blessed to be a blessing," is so true. God doesn't intend to give to us so that we continue to find more and more things we can buy for ourselves, whenever there are the poor and hungry "begging at the gates." The Scripture in I John 3:1 says it best: " If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, and has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in Him?"


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