Yesterday’s post may have come across a little harsh. In fact, someone who loves me very much replied to it via e-mail with this insightful remark:
The purpose of the post wasn’t to induce guilt.
Okay, yes, it was.
But a secondary purpose was to talk about something I think a lot of us need to hear, myself included.
We aren't really loving our neighbors as ourselves.
We may be doing good by sending money overseas to provide livestock and training for villagers, supporting children in poverty through really awesome nonprofits, and supporting our friends who are missionaries. We may be doing good when we bring canned goods to our churches for food drives, teach Bible studies, sing on the praise team, or volunteer to work in the nursery. We may be doing some by writing to our senators, being educated citizens, and voting. We may be doing good by writing blog posts that inspire people to do good work in the world.
But I don’t think that’s enough, my friends.
Not when we say we believe that the second greatest commandment–in the whole world! the universe! of all time! for infinity!–is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
How do you love yourself?
I’m not good at answering that question because I “love myself” by giving myself some alone time. Splurging on a frou-frou decaf coffee with hazlenut syrup and real cream. Checking my e-mail and blog statistics compulsively.
Those sorts of answers don’t translate into concrete actions for my neighbor.
But when I think of it in terms of being the body of Christ, that is, the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, frou-frou coffee falls by the wayside.
It makes me realize that I say a lot of things, but I don’t do a lot of things.
I don’t know about you, but I am really good at making excuses, especially about how busy I am caring for my seven-month-old. About how I’m not really at a time in my life where I have much extra to offer to people outside my home (cf. seven-month-old comment). About how I teach Sunday school and I’m a deacon, for cryin’ out loud. That should count for something!
I’m not saying these aren’t good excuses.
And maybe they are adequate for me. For right now. For today.
But I don’t want to let myself off the hook, and neither should you.
Are you being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world?
Are you using your gifts where they are most needed?
In the real world? With real people? In your real community?
Do you live in a little town where offering four hours of your time once a month would be the difference between a dozen women and children being off the street or on the street? I know some of you do.
And for those of you who don’t–or think you don’t–I’d guess you’re wrong.
I am guessing that your town, your neighborhood, your community has lots of ministries, nonprofits, and volunteer organizations that would beg to differ.
So, as we head into Advent, think on it, my friends.
What excuses are you making?