Should we only help people when we are ready? Should I refrain from helping my neighbor if I myself am also in need? Is there ever a realistic time in which myself or my family will not be “in need” of some sort? Are we ever really “ready” to open our homes, hearts, or wallets to help others?
Should my friend refrain from adopting another child because her own child has special needs and will likely always have special needs?
Should any of us ever really have kids if we’re not ready? Are we ever ready to give our lives over to another?
Should we make no personal sacrifice in the midst of another’s crisis or tragedy?
Will we ever really have room if we don’t make room? Are we making decisions out of fear or feelings of scarcity?
Where do we draw the line at our own self-centeredness? Should I refrain from giving to charity or even from giving gifts of any kind until my financial situation is utterly perfect and in control? If that is my “requirement” to be able to give, I can’t tell you when I will possibly be able to give again, and I would have had to stop giving about 8 years ago.
Is it ethical to refuse to help others in crisis? Is there ever a “good enough” reason to refuse?
As a Christian, do I believe in the abundance of God? Do I believe I am called to lay down my life, my safety, my comfort for my brother? Do I believe that God will provide for me if I pour my life out in His name? Do I believe that any resources I have are actually God’s and not my own and therefore, do I surrender the use of those resources to the Heavenly realms? As a Christian, am I entitled to any earthly thing? Are my treasures stored here, where I am in fear of them being destroyed or are my treasures in heaven, abundant and eternal? Do I really desire to live a life like Christ and his disciples whom he called to drop their actual daily lives, possessions, positions, and livelihoods and follow him to proclaim the Good News that Love has come to deliver us from our chains of slavery to the sins of the world – greed, envy, hate, discord, selfishness, fear, and the like? Though my salvation is not dependent upon the works of my hands or my life, shouldn’t my love for Christ who first loved me compel me to live my life differently than the life of someone who does not know the abundant freedom of being loved by the one who is love? Aren’t I compelled to live sacrificially because I am sacrificially loved and redeemed? Wasn’t my life bought at an illogical price, in an illogical way? Did Christ ever call us to first be logical, then be loving? Is this how Christ has loved us?
Perhaps there is no room for this way of life in politics. Perhaps it is not fair to expect that all people of a country adhere to such a standard of ceaseless mercy and endless grace because really, it’s not humanly possible, it is only through Christ that such a river flows.
We tell a Christmas story of a couple, far from home, who could only find shelter in a stable. We say that the Prince of Peace was born in a lowly, dirty place – a needy, helpless baby. This was not an accident, but by heavenly design. So what does this mean to me now? What does it mean to any of us that the story of our redemption began so…uncomfortably, so illogically?
The love of Christ, of God, is radical and strange. The redemption and freedom offered to us through this love is wild. God is not limited and so where we look at our lives and see impossibilities, we must know that those are human issues, not heavenly ones. We must know that where we can not, God can. We must know that where we lack, God is abundant. Where we are weak, God is strong. It is through our weakness, our lack, our inability, that God’s power and abundance and ability is made known. We are never enough on our own. We will never have enough to give if we are working only within the limits of our human economy of resources. If we are waiting to have enough by the work of our own hands, we will never have enough. We will never have room.
We are called to live differently. We are called to live out of the abundance of the Heavenly realms.
We are called to be the light of the world and the world has much darkness and much need for light, for real light. Light that can’t be extinguished with crisis or hurt or fear. The light we are called to carry within us can’t be our own light. Our own lights are easily dimmed in the midst of the ache of our own humanity. The light we are called to carry within us is to be the light of the God we give our lives over to. We are called to no longer call our lives our own, so that we can be a beacon to others in a dark world, so that the lost and weary people of this place can see hope for more than this mess. So that they can come to us and find refuge and rest in the light of the love of an abundant God. So that they may see that God is love. So that they may believe that they are safe. So that they may find mercy and grace. So that they may find new life and streams of living water that don’t run dry.
We are called to lay down our lives, and let them die. Let our agenda die. Let our politics die. Let our ways die. Let our old self die. We are called to leave those things behind so the light can shine. This world is desperate for the light right now. We are the beloved and we are called to love – at the risk of losing everything earthly, everything. That’s not an easy thing to remember – that nothing and no one should ever come first or hold us back from answering the call of Christ. We are to trust that God is enough and God is love and God loves us and wants good for us and so we are to surrender everything we have and everything we love to the cause of Christ: which is the cause of ceaseless, boundless, unwavering love. We are to trust that God will hold us up and hold us close. We are to trust that God will be our comfort and our safety and will fulfill all our needs. To this, there are no amendments, it is as it has always been and as it always will be. We are called to give it all.
I don’t know how you can run a country like that. Maybe you can’t, really. Maybe it just doesn’t make sense. Maybe it is far too risky and a little too “loose”. Maybe you just can’t say “Our nation is a Christian nation and so we fearlessly shine a light of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, hope, joy, and peace out into the world. We are willing to sacrifice our own sense of safety and comfort to take care of our brothers and sisters across the world, to show them the love, power, and abundance of Christ. We refuse to be ruled by the love of money and do not depend upon our own resources, but instead upon the resources of our God in Heaven. We know that the battle is not among other people or nations, as it is written in Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms..” and so, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”
Maybe you can’t run a country like that. The good news is, none of us are running this country and so we are free to live out our life according to our calling of radical, wild, abundant, ceaseless love. There is no stopping us. Unless we stop ourselves.