I watched the Oscars last Sunday…well, for a while. Observing them head down the red carpet reminded me of another show, and I switched the channel to something similar…
…in comparison, I’d admit the fashions on the Walking Dead were not quite as impressive.
What turned me off (and in turn, made me turn them off) was all the self-righteousness preaching by actors. Ironic coming from a pastor, right? But several of them seemed to think that by “speaking out” on an issue in their acceptance speeches, they’d actually done something to help.
Some call this “raising awareness”. I call it “hot air”.
When did we get the idea that just “saying” something was the equivalent of “doing” something?
I’m not giving the rest of us a free pass, though. We see starving kids on TV and just say, “Bless their hearts”. We give an extra buck at Publix and get our name put on a star made of construction paper. We dump our old clothes at Goodwill and you’d think we just donated a kidney.
Really we’re just saving ourselves a trip to the dump.
Church people can be just as bad. We volunteer to serve the homeless one day a year at Thanksgiving, and think we’re a virtual Mother Theresa. We hand out bottled water to people who can afford their own, with our church name emblazoned across it so we’ll be sure to get the credit!
We do these things mainly for OURSELVES, not for others. They’re symbolic gestures that don’t actually solve problems – they just make us feel good. Many of us have the ability to meet the needs if we’re willing, but most of the big problems would take personal sacrifice to fix.
One example: there are many foster children in need of temporary homes in Collier County. Most of us have a spare bedroom, some have several. With childcare and expenses basically covered by the government, all that’s required is a little training, a few hours in the mornings and evenings, and a bit of human kindness.
Instead, many Christians I know measure their Christ-likeness by the number of times they go to church a week, how often they read their Bibles, and how much time they spend in prayer. Funny, but Jesus had a different criteria altogether:
“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” – Matthew 25:35-36
This means the obedient believers are those who specifically spend their own lives to feed the hungry, or those who open their home to help strangers (think foster parenting, for example), provide clothing for those who don’t have enough (not just spring cleaning of your closet), who comfort the sick (not as a career, but a calling), and minister to the incarcerated.
So…do you fall into even one of those categories?
The bottom line is God takes it personally how we respond to pain around us. He expects His followers to do good things that bring glory to Him. That’s because when we do more than just talk, it makes even a cynical world take notice.
Honestly, if your faith only helps you & not others, the only god you’re worshipping is you.
I heard about a popular Christian speaker who addressed a missions conference a few years ago. Part way through his talk on outreach, he said, “The world is going to hell, and most Christians don’t give a (expletive) about it!”
When all the bluster had quieted down, he looked at the group and noted, “…and most of you are more offended that I said (expletive) than that the world is going to hell.” We Christians are offended at many things, but not always at the things which truly offend God.
Is it any wonder skeptics doubt our love for them? I believe one of the reasons the Church has lost credibility in our culture is that they don’t see the same sacrificial selflessness in us they see in Jesus. When most of our churchs are so inwardly focused, why should they think we care about anyone else?
But God’s plan all along was for us to shut down arguments against our faith by living lives that proved our love was more than just words:
For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. – 1 Peter 2:15
If my car went off the road leaving me incapacitated and you drove by ignoring my injured kids by the roadside, I’d be pretty offended. So when we ignore God’s hurting kids, why should we expect any other reaction from Him?
Today, God is looking on as well. He sees His kids laying on the side of the road dying while we drive by casually on our way to the church basketball league.
Have I offended you? Good. Because it’s nowhere close to how offended our Father is that in the midst of all our religious recreation, we’ve ignored His children.
You may pray for revival in our country: if so, I join you in that endeavor. But perhaps God will refuse to hear from heaven and heal our land until we’ve proven we’ll hear from him and heal our neighbors like He told us!
Now how about instead of being offended, we just suck it up and get to work. If not, we’ll be no better than the Walking Dead from those red carpets next Sunday morning walking into church!