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Saturday, March 9, 2013

listening to the sound of their own voices

Tonight, I have a lot of thoughts on various topics. Some could be considered "controversial" and the last thing I want to do is stir up a can of worms.

Some days, I am very disallusioned with my Christian brothers and sisters. Some days it seems that people simply like to hear the sound of their own voices, not really taking time to listen or hear a single person around them. There are too many Christians with megaphones and not enough Christians with ears. Or so, it seems.

I am frustrated. Yesterday, I recalled a excerpt from a book I read called Under the Overpass. The book detailed the lives of two men who gave up everything to live the life of a vagrant for a year. They wanted to forsake everything, so that they could understand and write about the experience of what it truly means to be homeless in America, one of the richest nations in the world.

They spoke of how they experienced real hunger. One passage truly opened my eyes and forced me to look at how hyprocrital we, as Christians, can sometimes be. The men explained how
they  were sitting near the outside of a coffee shop. They were extremely hungry and watched as people threw away their food. The greatest irony came as they watched a group of students hold a Bible study. They wrote about how they were often ignored and sometimes scoffed at, by people who were openly Christian.

Maybe I was reminded of this because today at the coffee shop, I saw a group of students holding a Bible study. I was glad that they were there and not ashamed of their faith in God. I did, however, notice that they only interacted within their own little circle. I tried meeting their eyes a few times, but to no avail. I noticed how they were only seemingly concerned with what was taking place in their own little group. Their voices became loud, and I wondered if they had taken the time to notice a single person around them. I began to wonder how much of what "we" do resembles a click.
Why do we need to feel to shout when we are only talking amongst ourselves?
The thing that I love about Jesus is that He interacted with people of all sorts of various backgrounds, from the prositute to the rich tax collectors.He even interacted with the hypocritial religous people, the Pharisees and Saducess.

The other day I felt like a hypocrite. I was coming home from a meeting and I saw a lady on the side of the street. She clearly needed a ride. There was a part of me that wanted to rush on because I had "better" things to do with my time, and there was a part of me that was simply afraid to pick her up.
I understand the real and perceived dangers of picking up strangers. I understand the need for discernment in some situations, but I am also gravely aware that everytime I ignore the needs of someone who desperately needs help, I am forsaking the call of Jesus to care for the "least of these."

In our quest for safety, we have to ask the vital question, are we so afraid of losing our lives, that perhaps we will never really find it?  are we so enamored by what is convenient for ourselves, that it essentially becomes easy to look right past our noses and ignore the hurting people that are camped round all about us?

are we simply talking just to hear the sound of our own voices?
Jesus has taught me a few things as of late. Often, we think we are helping someone when we throw our money at them. I started thinking of the story of the guys who lived the life of a homeless men. They won't remember the time you  tossed a dime into their buckets, but they will remember the time you took to look them in the eye and ask them about their day.
They told about how, during the course of year, one single person took the time to ask them to dinner. They began to appreciate things like that. They spoke of how they were rejected by churches and kicked off of church premises by pastors afraid of losing paying church memebers. They were made to feel unworthy, but they always recognized Christ in people who took the time to make them feel worthy..and it didn't always come in the shape of a dollar. sometimes, it was as simple as a hand on a shoulder. Or a couple who invitied them into their home for a warm bath and a warm meal.

I'm sad because I feel that if we are missing kindness and gentelness and love, then we are missing the entire gospel. Didn't Jesus say that we can tell if a person belongs to Him by their fruits? Patience, gentlenss, longsuffering, love? Didn't Jesus say that no matter what spritual gift you have, if you don't have love then you are nothing?
are we pushing people aside so that we can be stars in our own show? are we enamored with people with power and loud and boisterous words who have numerous gifts? or are we seeking Christ and walking in the fruit that defines who we should be?
are we walking with megaphones and not really taking time to listen to others around us?

Earlier, I spoke about money. Often, I waste too much money. I don't have too many luxuries, but I eat out more than I should. I am fully aware that I work hard for money and it is my God given right to spend it where and how I please, but there was once a time in my life when I had very very little.
There was a time when I didn't have a lot of food to eat and I would often find myself eating by the gracious hand of my family. During that time, I thought of all of the money that I had wasted in the past.
While it is  true that money is "only" money..Money can be differnce between someone going hungry and someone being warm.
I often think of the countless people in the world who are starving and cold, and suddenly, I begin to rethink my wasteful habits. How much are we willing to sacrifice so that someone else can know warmth? How much comfort are we willing to sacrifice so that someone else can be fed?

Do we care or are we just listening to sound of whoever is sceaming into the megaphone for the day or the week?  Are we truly seeking the face of Christ? In my experience, Christianity has been hard, because Christ has always led me into sacrifice. Perhaps, that's the whole meaning of the verse about the narrow path.. If we aren't willing to give anything up, then can we really say that we love? and if we aren't loving, then do we really belong to or even know Christ?

Today, Christ whispered to me.. When we learn to see Him, and look through His eyes, then we learn to see others.

To truly see another person, is to love that person. Love goes beyond the group think mentality. It looks beyond and is able to recognize another human soul as something beautiful, no matter how different that person may look on the outside.
Christ gives us the ability to love unlikely people. When we look through the eyes of love, then we can see everything.
and the last thing we will see is ourselves..and the last thing we will feel the need to hear the sound of our own voice.
we will be looking to hear the song of others, and somehow, our own voice, won't really matter much anymore...

here's another hard question. can we really say that we love our enemies? Do we understand that the Holy Spirit will not lead us into violence or war, but into love? are we being led by the Spirit? or are we picking out verses that suit our own desires and cater to our own flesh?
how many religious wars have been justified because someone read about a battle in the Bible? haven't we learned that Christ said to love our enemies and do good to those that curse us? or...are we even listening to His voice anymore?  Next time you have a question, find out what Jesus would have to say about it, or are we even willing to do that anymore? we are so caught up in our christian line dances that the true test is if we are still standing when the music stops.
and the music will stop.
and then you will know whose voice it was you were really hearing?

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. -Matthew 16:25

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. -1 John 4:8

The enemy comes as an angel of light

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