I have to confess to a secret pleasure. I LOVE most of the “Shorts” on YouTube. I enjoy those brief glimpses into people’s lives that, in just a few seconds, expose who they are or make me laugh. Sometimes the little vignettes are poignant and bring me up short. I saw one like that today.
The setting was a homeless man, sleeping under a blanket on a little piece of padding. Another man, apparently also homeless, approached him and said he was very cold and really needed a place to sleep. The first man immediately got up and offered his bed and blanket to the second man, and sat down to spend the rest of the night sitting up and exposed to the elements. The second man then got up and shared that he really didn’t need a bed, but offered the first man an envelope, apparently with money in it. He had been looking for someone kind to reward. After he gave the first man the envelope, he began to walk away. The first man, after recovering from his shock, got up and ran after the second man to give him a hug of gratitude. It was a beautiful picture of real love in action, and I found myself with tears running down my face.
There are many such “shorts” on YouTube, but this one moved me deeply, for whatever reasons. I was filled with shame. I sit here in my comfortable home and I have everything I need. What am I doing to share what I have with others who have so many needs? How do I proclaim the Gospel in practical terms? It is all well and good to talk about love, but how am I showing it? I am afraid I don’t fulfill that part of what it means to follow Christ very well. Am I denying myself daily and taking up my cross and following Him? (Luke 9:23) My faith seems to be pretty selfish ~ an “I’m all right, Jack” kind of thing. I give to the church and to a couple of charities and to some missionaries ~ but how would the Lord evaluate the way I minister to those around me who need it most?
As an elderly woman, I would not be expected to go out at night among the homeless and pass out money. That would be foolish. Evil exists and I would be risking my safety. However, there are many other ways I could be demonstrating agape love. There are thousands of places where I could volunteer my time. I could send little gifts of money, anonymously, to those I see in need, but who are too proud to ask for help. I am not wealthy, and it would be a small sacrifice on my part ~ but isn’t that part of the deal? Christ sacrificed His life; I can surely “sacrifice” a little of the blessings with which He has blessed me….share the blessing; share the love. I am sure I could find other ways to be salt and light.
I need to be far more grateful for all my blessings. He has been faithful to supply all my needs. I have never gone without enough food; I have always had a roof over my head, sufficient clothing to cover my nakedness; even an ancient car that gets me where I need to go. I have good children, good friends, a good church, and I am relatively healthy for a woman entering her nineties in a few weeks. Have there been hard times? You had better believe it. When my husband and I were first married we lived hand to mouth every month, with only pennies between us and zero funds. God cut it close, but all our needs were somehow provided ~ unexpected bonuses, tax refunds, gifts coming at times of emergencies ~ we somehow made it through until we got on a more stable financial level. There was illness; painful relationships, and problems for extended family including the suicide of a beloved uncle ~ we didn’t have a smooth, trouble-free ride. Yet, in all those years, we knew He would be faithful to supply all our needs: financial, emotional, and spiritual. We got through it all, and isn’t that enough to deserve gratitude? It could have been so much worse. What more do I need than what I already have? God has been faithful, and His greatest gift, that of His sacrificial death to redeem my soul and free me from the penalty of my sins, is the greatest gift of all. I should never take that for granted.
In exchange, all I have been tasked to do is tell others about Him, and demonstrate the kind of love He has shown me to others. How am I doing with that?
How am I doing at loving my enemies? How am I doing at going the second mile? At seeking His righteousness, at not judging others? If I could see myself as others see me, would I see someone who exhibits the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? (Galatians 5: 22-23)
Dear sisters ~ my prayer for all of us is that we get back to basics. I have been active in churches and know how easy it is to get caught up in all the various ways we can serve Him within the church. It is easy to find all our spare time caught up in choir and women’s organizations, Bible studies, and committees. All good stuff, and necessary. Yet, we also have a deeper obligation ~ to minister to those around us who don’t know Christ. We tend to pull away from hands-on ministries and leave it to the “professionals”. Is this really what the Lord intended for His people?
It seems to me that all the teaching in scripture applies to every believer. In our churches, do we let our ministers and pastors become our “token Christian” and then just live our lives the way we want? Do we expect them to do the work of studying the Bible for us instead of studying it for ourselves? Do we expect social agencies to deal with the homeless and the disenfranchised of all kinds, and then spend all our energies storing up treasures on earth for ourselves? I am speaking to myself here. How seriously do we apply things we say we believe to our own lives in active, practical ways?
I suppose that at my age I am thinking seriously about what it will be like when I see the face of Jesus. Will I hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”? Or, will I stand in shame, seeing my life pass before me and knowing that I have been lazy and selfish and ungrateful?
I am grateful for the little YouTube “Short” because it has called me to think about these things. Selah.