So. Very. “Interrupted” – Week One
“Our hope is that through our story, you might identify where God is leading you, that you might read something that helps you overcome what is holding you back, and that you might receive permission to chase after it.”
I wholeheartedly concur with Brandon Hatmaker in the introduction to this book. God will speak to you differently that He speaks to me. His Holy Spirit will convict you differently than He convicts me. We are different people. We have different gifts. We live and work in different spheres of influence. But, one thing I will not sugar-coat is that He has called you to help the needy. Make no mistake about it.
There is no waiting to be called. It’s been done. Read the Great Commission in Matthew 28. There is no doubt He wants you to help the poor, the widowed, the orphaned. Read pretty much any other book in the Bible. But, as we work through this book together, we will pray for God’s specific call on our lives. We will pray for each other. We will encourage each other in the faith. As my partner in crime says, we will get off our tooshy and serve those in need.
As far as format goes, I am simply going to highlight main points where God spoke to me. You must know I could have highlighted every other stinking paragraph. But I really tried not to! Please feel free to make comments about my main points AND/OR bring up how God spoke directly to your heart as well!! I am praying for life change. Not for us to just stumble around together dizzied by this transformational message and conviction from God.
Without any further ado…let’s break into Chapter One – Winter 2007
“If you truly love me, you will feed my lambs. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and dreaming about your next house.” (p.27)
Ouch. This was stung. As well it should.
I, like Hat (that’s our nickname for Jen Hatmaker because my partner in crime is Jen too!) So, anyway…I, like Hat, grew up in church. I was a PK. I was there every time the doors were open. I worked as a counselor and director at a Christian camp for a third of my life. I was on church staff. And so on and so forth. How in the stinking world I managed to mentally limit “His people” to the ones who look like me, vote like me, worship like me, and are American like me, I have no idea. I feel like an absolute fool. The level of justification we, as Americans, use to determine who does and does not deserve help/relief/blessing is nothing short of sickening. My prayer is that God gets a hold of the limitations and segregations our hearts have put upon this – and crushes them to obliteration. Even better, just smote them, Lord. You heard me – smote them. The judgments, not the people. For now.
“It won’t suffice to claim good intentions. Saying “I meant well” is not going to cut it. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, “Oh? Were you serious about that?” (p. 27-28)
Does anyone else feel like they just found out their best friend in the whole world’s birthday was last week and you completely forgot to even send a birthday txt? Oh shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Guilt mixed with anger mixed with disappointment and frustration at yourself, all topped with a large dose of shame and shoulda-known-better-ness.
Well, that’s fine. I’m there too. But, the only way those feelings are anything more than feelings is if they drive us to action.
Read Galatians 2:9-10 -“James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
Paul is talking about his ministry to the Gentiles (the non-Jews, accepted by grace and faith in Jesus) and the ministry of James (Jesus half-brother) and Peter, which was to the Jews (born ‘God’s people’ and driven by The Law). They were not the same. At all. But, they respected each other. They held the same goals in the forefront of their minds. James and Peter were called to preach ‘clean the inside of your cup’ type messages to the self-righteous Jewish culture. Paul was called to preach ‘by grace you’ve been saved’ to those not born into the ‘right’ bloodline. Both of these ministries were crucial to the beginnings of the early church.
James and Peter (known as two of the ‘pillars of their faith’) had given Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship and agreed Paul should go to preach the good news to the Gentiles. But pay special attention to verse 10 – “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
It’s all. they. asked.
They didn’t ask to give them the credit.
They didn’t ask to make sure they had pews and not chairs.
They didn’t ask to ensure their dress code was up to par or their music wasn’t too hard core.
All they asked was for Paul to continue to remember the poor.
These two such different ministries – with one common mission. To be Jesus to the people. And by this, to remember the poor.
And how did Paul react? Obedience. After all, this was ‘this very thing he was eager to do.’ The Greek word for eager is a verb, not an adjective. It is a verb that means: to make haste; to exert oneself; to endeavor; give diligence.
Exert oneself. Exert myself. Exert thyself. Enough said.
“For all my self-proclaimed love of God’s Word, what I really loved were the parts that worked for me. For my good. For my blessings.” (p.30)
Um, yeah. She read my thoughts. Dangit.
“ALL of the statistics on pages 32-33!!” (Isn’t perspective a beautiful and freeing and humbling gift!?!)
I will just touch on a few of these that hit me hardest.
I am almost among the wealthiest 1% in the entire world. Me? What!?! I thought we were broke! Doesn’t she know that I stay home with my kids and my husband is in education for goodness sakes? Yep, she knows. That doesn’t change the math. I am wealthy. And not only in the good-Christian-says-my-treasures-are-in-heaven kind of way. Literally – I am wealthy. As in 99% of the people in the world are more broke than I am. Most of them would kill (and do kill!) for the leftover change I have under my couch cushions and in the floorboard of one of my two cars. Ugh, shoot me now.
I complain about the yucky water in my old house’s faucets, and therefore justify buying bottled water and/or Brita purifiers when 40% of the world has no water to drink that won’t cause them to get sick or die. I feel certain they’d happily drink from my old faucet.
And this one got me the hardest – we hear about the Jewish Holocaust and how awful it was. And, it was beyond awful. But, in my generation, we have only heard about it. We think, If I’d have been alive, I’d have tried to do something more to help those people. Yet, we sit back with Starbucks cup in hand, while the equivalent of SEVEN TIMES that many people die every single year from starvation, disease and malnutrition. Every year. Yet, everywhere I turn around I see an American man, woman and child who are overweight or obese. The contradiction is almost too much to take in.
Right now, Americans make me sick. Oh wait, I is one.
(In response to the quotes from three prominent American Christian leaders)“…God wants American kids to go to college but He’s ok with sixty-five million orphans panhandling in Asia? God wants to give us ‘nice things’ but doesn’t care about helping Africans with things like food and water? It’s ridiculous!” (p.36)
In full disclosure, I cannot personally comment toward the public Christian leaders’ comments with a good heart right now. This one gets me pretty fired up, actually.
Here’s the deal – prosperity preaching is crap. It just is. God cares so much more deeply about our character, our motives, our selfless and pure acts of love than He does about our home’s square-footage or the promotion we receive with freaking stock options. Don’t get me wrong – He cares about it – but only because He cares about us. To say that what God wants most for us, aside from salvation, is for us to live on earth as wealthy, successful, and happy people, is quite a stretch from…well, reality. And, it is a giant leap away from Scripture.
How do you explain poverty? Or disease? Or the trafficking of millions of children?
Especially if you hear on Sunday morning that God just wants us to be happy here on earth. Really? Hmmm. I guess just us then. Not them.
Yes, God loves it when His kids are happy. But, I believe He cares far much more about our holiness than our happiness.
When we begin to equate His favor by our qualifications of wealth, health and prosperity…we are missing the point. And perhaps, missing His deepest favor altogether.
“As Ghandi once famously said, ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” (p. 36)
Unfortunately, I think Ghandi hit the nail right on the American head.
Obviously we are unlike Christ because we are not perfect. Given. But, let’s not use that as a cop-out. Ghandi said we are SO unlike our Christ. And, to be so unlike our Christ is beyond sad. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Debbie Downer. I know personal people, yes, Americans, who give generously, love deeply, serve faithfully and are very much like our Christ. I could list them by name if I thought they wouldn’t be embarrassed.
But, the rest of us – most of us – look awfully similar to everyone else in America who doesn’t give God the time of day, much less proclaim to follow Him. And, trust me, read any chapter of any gospel…our Christ looked nothing, acted nothing, spoke nothing like anybody else in His culture.
“We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care?….I won’t answer one day for how the U.S. government spent billions of dollars on the war in Iraq ($601 billion and counting when $9 billion would solve the planet’s water crisis) nor will I get credit for the general philanthropy of others. It will come down to what I did. What you did.”
We will stand before God one day and give account. That is not a theory. It is a fact. God ahead and stop and picture that for a minute. His pure majesty and glory beyond what we can imagine. Will we be able to say that we fed His people, cared for His people…all His people? Or will we give Him our justification of how they didn’t deserve help, after all, Lord, they weren’t even contributing to social security. Sheesh.
Disclaimer: I am no politician. I am NOT looking for a political debate here. I have no label of any sort I associate with, except Christian. And Jesus served. Everyone. Every race, creed, color, religion, and economic status – He served them. He died for them. Yes, all of them, too. Really, friend, that is all that matters.
I have heard so many people say “But we have so many people here in America that are poor, homeless, widowed, etc. – why should I send money overseas when Americans are in need, as well?”
Fine. Then, get in one of your cars, and drive to a place and serve them.
“I do try to help those in need.”
No you don’t.
You either help those in need or you don’t help those in need. There is no try.
“I serve at church. I tithe. I donate clothes to Good Will. I send a check to a missionary every year.” I may or may not have said this exact type thing once all too recently.
Good! You are doing awesome in those areas of obedience. But, once again…how are you (how am I?) actually getting up and exerting thyself to serve those who are poor, homeless, widowed, and orphaned?
It ain’t rocket science, friend.
I feel this would be a good time to mention the obvious – this is not a guilt thing. The conviction of the Holy Spirit and the desire to actually obey Scripture are the only reasons for you to act on any this. Not to look good. Not to still be my friend. Not to relieve your guilt for being a wealthy American.
I am not saying we all need to quit our churches, sell our homes and move to the ghetto. But, oh my goodness gracious, we could all (myself especially!) use a swift kick in the teeth when it comes to serving the least of these.
Do it in obedience. And for Jesus Name’s sake – do it with love.
1 Cor. 13:3 “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
1 Cor. 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Ok now. I have done everything in my power to keep this as brief as possible. (This is my page 5, but it easily have coulda been page 15. You know this, man.) So…please feel free now, my friends, to comment. Please be respectful of others. Speak in kindness. PLEASE share what God is saying to you. How have you been impacted? What parts of the book stood out to you? Let’s support each other as we all move together toward the goal – bringing God all the honor and glory we possibly can with our meager lives, while we can.
I simply cannot wait to hear all about what God is doing!! Love, love.
Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
2 Cor. 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But, I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.” – Anonymous