As most of you know, we are hosting a sibling group of four from a Ukrainian orphanage this Christmas through New Horizons for Children. We are so very grateful for all of the support, prayers and love from all of our friends, family and community. We love you all so very much and appreciate you!
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Looking for a daily Christmas 'AHHHH'?
Reading through the Athens Banner Herald this morning , I came across an article about a local restaurant that is helping a local family adopt a baby girl by hosting a fundraiser. I will admit, that I generally enjoy reading the Athens Banner Herald for the snarky comments by its readers. Maybe my reaction to reading some of these comments in regards to this particular article today shows that Jesus is in the process of redeeming this part of my fallen nature but most likely it just shows how close to my own heart these people were 'snarkin'. Many of the comments revolved around 'greed', 'trophy children', 'deserving children', 'Obama mentality', 'greedy people' and the like. Sigh.
Willow Creek Compassion & Justice
“Success in life has nothing to do with what you accomplish, have or do for yourself, but what you do for others.” —Danny Thomas
For the most part the readers making the snarky comments are the same readers that react in much the same way I do to articles that expose atrocities such as human trafficking, AIDS and hunger so prevalent in our world today. They are the same readers that, for the most part, will lend their support and temper their sharp wit when it comes to articles about local toy drives and community can-a-thons. But a couple seeking community assistance to adopt a child from another country brought out some criticism. Why? And why did I react to it so adversely?
The first personal sting I felt while reading the comments section was in the area of fundraising. God has been working in my own heart this year about fundraising- I downright dislike talking about fundraising. Maybe because I know full well the negative emotions, like those expressed in the comment section of this article, fundraising brings up- even in me at times. In order to continue some of the things we began here in the community, it became necessary to ask people for not only their time and talent but also for money. UGHH! When my lack became abundantly evident, my prayers began to sound something like, "okay, God, well, that sure was fun and rewarding and I thank you for the opportunity to serve and I give you all the glory and honor. Amen." I'd make sure to ramble fast up to a quick 'amen', not stopping to listen to a thing God had to say. Deep down, I was pretty sure He wasn't completely done with what we started and that I was about to get a push right out of my comfort zone. I found myself looking into a mirror that revealed a lady so full of pride that her first choice was to stop a loving outreach, not because God said it was the end, but because she didn't want to ask for help from others. My favorite excuse to stop the outreach was, "well, if God really wanted this to keep going he'd provide the funds and people." I guess I thought that meant that my bank account was going to miraculously have funds and people were going to hear about us from out of the blue and come running to sign up for service. Nope. God was dealing with me. It became pretty clear that He wanted me to get over myself and "ASK" "SEEK" and "KNOCK".
This same pride monster rose again when our family felt called to host a sibling group from Ukraine for Christmas. This mission is bigger than the Smiths. Again, we are depending on 'our people' to carry us through this journey. I think God likes His missions that way- BIGGER than the ones He hands them to- so that they have to reach out and lift each other up. What a brilliant way to deal with pride! In 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Paul sorts this thing out for us. Sometimes I'll tell myself something like, "Just because Jesus asked the foot to pay for that meal and the eyeball to take it over there, you still have to get your lazy bones up and go because he told you to smile and serve the food." =)
You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
Pride is self-importance and self-focus -- which leads to selfishness which is selfish thinking and selfish acting -- which is the opposite of Jesus' command of agape love (John 13:34).
Now let's talk adoption. Who gets adopted? Orphans.
Galatians 3:25-29 (MSG) says this:
"But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise. In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises."
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Learning to love what is. Epic Odyssey. And the story winds along...