This post is part of a series of posts that began from a seminar I attended in which singer/songwriter Sara Groves challenged us not to waste our spiritual buffalo, to consider the end to which we are grooming our faith. If you’re stopping by in the middle of this series, you may want to read this, this, and this.
Because I think Sara Groves says all of this way better than I do, you should read this interview with her. Then, if you have time, you can come back and read what I have to say. But if you only have time to read one thing, read what she has to say. 🙂
One thing Sara said in that interview she also said in the seminar I attended. It’s a quote she attributes to Gary Haugen, the founder of International Justice Mission. “The poor and the oppressed will save us from our life of trivia.” When I look outside myself and search for opportunities to help the poor and the oppressed, I am saved from a life of trivia.
Suddenly, which pair of shoes best matches my outfit doesn’t seem so important, buying one more charm for my bracelet doesn’t seem like the best way to spend my money. I have purpose. I am part of something greater than myself. I feel connected to the Body of Christ that is larger than the people who gather a few blocks from my house every Sunday morning, people who all look so much like me, people who are neatly dressed in the latest fashions and drive to church in nice cars. Suddenly, I see that the Body of Christ also includes mothers who are dying of AIDS and children who are starving. I see that the Body of Christ includes 14 year old girls who have been tricked into sexual slavery and are now part of a big international business that is, essentially, rape-for-sale. I realize I am connected to these people because we are part of the same Body, and I realize God wants this part of His Body to help that part of His Body. Suddenly, my life stops being trivial and meaningless and my eyes open to all the possibilities of ways God can use me.
As I stop merely consuming Christian culture and ask the Holy Spirit to change me, I begin to see the world as Jesus does. I love people and have compassion on them. I want for others the same things I want for myself and my children because I am loving others as I love myself. I don’t want to just give a tiny part of all that I have amassed, I want to give abundantly, liberally, sacrificially even. I want to give more than I have. I begin to ask God to give to me so that I can give to others.
You know, I think the biggest roadblock to our making an impact on the world is the idea that we don’t have anything to give. We swallow this lie so easily. I’ve done it more times than I can count. I think, “I don’t have enough time to _____” or “I don’t have any extra money.” And sometimes, when we look at the cold, hard facts, this is true. I don’t have time to do another thing and I don’t have any money beyond what is already budgeted. But I’ve been learning lately that this is when God has His biggest blessings in store. When I don’t have time or money or resources or talents, I think God wants me to ask Him. I think God wants me to say, “Father, I am moved with compassion, my heart is breaking for this need. I want to give (or go or do something). Will you please give to me so that I can give to this need?” And then I think He wants us to watch Him work.
I’m telling you, living this way will grow your faith. It will make you love God more. It will bless your socks off!
Earlier this year, my husband and I went to Brazil with a small group from our church. In just 10 days, we came to know and love the members of a small congregation in a poor neighborhood of Sao Paulo. These people meet in two side-by-side garages. I watched a man go downstairs and get the keys to a car and move it out of the garage so the children could have Sunday School, and then park the car back in the garage when Sunday School was over. These believers are inviting their friends and family members to church, and they are outgrowing the garages. In His perfect timing, God is providing property just up the street. This new property has some buildings that, with a little work, can be used for classroom and auditorium space. It also has room for a basketball court and small soccer field that can be used for ministry. It’s really ideal for this church, and God’s hand has clearly been upon the whole deal.
Because we love this congregation of people and because God used these people to bless us so much while we visited them, my husband and I wanted to help them buy this property. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any extra money. By no extra money, I mean — no extra money. We are living on a tight budget and watching God provide for our every need. We certainly didn’t have any money to send to Brazil. So, I prayed. And do you know what God did? He sent my husband to GoodWill where he bought a few items he could resell on EBAY. And then God blessed those auctions, and we made $300! We didn’t have any money to send to Brazil, but God gave us $300 to send.
I’m not telling you this so you’ll think good things about me. I know I have been selfish with more than $300 during my lifetime, buying things I didn’t really need when I could have done good with that money. No, I’m not telling you this to make me look good. I’m telling you this because I want you to see how wonderful God is! I think He’s waiting on us to ask Him to give to us so that we can give to others. I think God loves rearranging money in ways that will bless His people and glorify Himself.
Please don’t buy into the lie that you have nothing to give. Ask God to give you time or money or ideas or talents so that you can help the poor and oppressed. Ask God to show you His purpose for you and the resources you have. Ask God to save you from a life of trivia.