It's W today. I just got back from a lovely birthday weekend in NYC with my 2 fantastic sisters (yes, two! We have a gorgeous sister who is nearly ten years younger than us) and I am procrastinating on all of my productive yet boring day-off tasks.
Anyway, the title of this post refers to Stephen Colbert. WHO KNEW that he was sort of a modern day philosopher? Not me, until I came across some of his quotes recently. This one, in particular, spoke to me:
“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition. And then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”
Convicting, right? And yes, we could get bogged down (blogged down? ha!) in the fact that the US is not a "Christian nation" in reality, but that would be missing the point of what Colbert is trying to say.
The point is this: We need to stop ignoring what Jesus told us to do.
My favorite part of this quote is without condition. That's what I think we as Christians often miss. It's easy enough to give our 10% to the church or text the Red Cross for $5 after a natural disaster, or even to volunteer at a reputable soup kitchen once in a while. But do we really serve and give without condition?
I know if I'm honest, I have several conditions for my serving and giving:
-I only give to people and sources that "feel" reputable
-I only give when it is relatively comfortable for me to give, i.e. when it's not going to take away from my lifestyle too much
-I only serve when it fits into my schedule, when the place is close enough to be convenient, and the population I'm serving isn't too "scary"
I think Colbert is right. Why do I not serve unconditionally? Because I just don't WANT to do it. It's inconvenient, uncomfortable, and scary. It puts me in a situation where I'm not in control, and I hate that. I'd much rather give to the church and volunteer with the children's ministry and refuse to give the man on the corner the time of day, thankyouverymuch.
Me, me, me, me. It's scary how often my life reflects a selfish attitude even in regards to my giving and service. To be clear, giving and serving in any capacity is fantastic, and I would never discourage anyone from doing so, especially if they are confident that the Lord has led them to serve in a capacity which just happens to be convenient and comfortable.
But I think Stephen Colbert has hit the nail on the head when he calls us out, as Christians, for creating a disparity between the way Jesus gave and served and the way we give and serve. If we want to live like Christ, and be like Christ, we have to ACT LIKE CHRIST. And sometimes that means going to scary places and hanging with shady people, and giving without judgement and serving without condition.
It's easy to think that He has called other people to that reality, but not us. As long as other Christians are serving in the prison ministry and distributing food under the bridge to the homeless and taking trips to Africa, and getting their hands dirty, then we can sit back and give a litte here and serve a little there and promise to pray for those who are doing the tough work and still feel like we're going "our part."
My dad used to get on my case a little bit back in college about my future career choices and my desire to go to Uganda. He used to say, "Anyone can hand out a piece of bread," meaning, "You have a degree worth hundreds of thousands of dollars-- go do something with it and leave the easy stuff to people who can't do anything else." Which, coming from the man who paid for my fantastic degree, is a worthwhile thought. But I can't get past this idea sometimes that even though anybody can not everybody will. And if the Lord has given me a willing heart to do the dirty work, then that is where I will go.
So, are you giving and serving unconditionally? Have you prayed fervently about where the Lord wants to direct your time and money? Are you being honest with yourself about our requirement as Christians to go where God wants and do what God wants even if it's scary, uncomfortable, or inconvenient?
And if not, why not?