You may not like what I have to say, but I have thought about it — and I think I am right. I know I am Biblical. As I write this post, I am in Brazil, a pilgrimage made a few times a year. This trip includes my wife, Susan, and Jerry and Gail Edmonson. Jerry is lead pastor at The Fellowship At Cinco Ranch, a thriving church in the Houston metropolitan area.
We call it a vision trip. Part of my job as President of Hope Unlimited for Children is to engage people about the cause of mortal-risk children, to help them get a clearer vision of what they can do to change the world. Not that Jerry or Gail need a clearer picture; their church is one of the most “least of these”-focused churches I have encountered. They have a very clear picture of the need, but they’re here to see first-hand the work we are doing.
So why am I here? I am really here because I need to be reminded why I do this work, why I am an advocate, why I ask people to reach into their pocketbooks and give — sometimes until it hurts — to make life better for at-mortal-risk children. I cannot do what I do in isolation. I have come to understand that to truly love these kids requires relationships, and I am very concerned that this relationship aspect is what we have lost as a Church.
Far too often, we want to hire someone to do our Christianity for us; to pay the pastors and missionaries — the “professional” Christians — to do the work we are all called to do. Our financial gifts are the salve for our consciences that tell us we are really being faithful to our Lord’s commands. (Remember that “least of these “ passage?) We live in comfortable homes and rarely experience what might be called “dirty” Christianity.
May I suggest to you that is not the way God designed his work? I remember a line in one of my Christology texts from seminary. The author is long gone from my memory, but his words stay with me: “Wasn’t it just like God to become man?”
Yeah, it was.
Because even for God, coming face-to-face with the reality of our humanity, struggling alongside us, feeling the pain we feel, feeling need, was absolutely essential to the gift of Himself. How much more true must this be for us?
Obedience demands relationship with those we are called to serve. Isolation, even if we write big checks to support a ministry, cannot be an option for us. True Biblical Christianity means that we get down, in the dirt if necessary, that we experience life as they experience it; that we view the world from their perspective. The New Testament knows nothing of an arms-length Christianity.
Truth be known, my experience is that those who have met the child of the streets face-to-face, those who have hugged the orphan in the slum, those who have looked into hungry eyes become far more generous. I know it impacted me that way; tithing simply wasn’t enough any more.
So here is my challenge to you: Don’t stop giving (please!), but get dirty. Touch the life of a child in your community. Travel with a mission group to minister in a slum. Open your home to someone without one. Practice Biblical Christianity.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:37-40)