Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Are We Doing with the Abundance?

While President Obama enjoys his third vacation for the year--courtesy of those who are struggling to pay the electric bills from this harsh winter--we are wondering if and when we'll be able to "get ahead" enough to actually enjoy a family vacation with regularity.  Right now our funds are in limbo between deciding whether to buy a fence to protect the kids in the backyard or to purchase a pellet stove to offset our $350 electric bills in the winter.  

And the President?  He's off in Key Largo.  Reminds me a little of this:

 Catching Fire:  

At the end of the tour, Katniss and Peeta travel to the Capital and are hosted at a party by the President.  Champagne bubbles in the fountains and there's more food than anyone could hope to sample. Instead of sharing or eating in moderation, when Capital citizens get full, they drink emetic fluids so they can vomit and continue eating. Peeta is disgusted by this.
"People are starving in [District] 12. Here they're just...throwing it up so they can stuff more in."

This scene disgusts us too, but we just pity the Capital citizens because, despite their lack of compassion, we see them as completely ignorant. They are narcissistic because of breeding and lack of knowledge.  We hate President Snow because he knows.  He's fully aware of the devastation and starvation in the districts, and he just doesn't care.  In fact, he sees their destitution and applauds their utter dependence, knowing their weakness will keep them in bondage.  

I won't get off into a political discussion about the need to maintain 2nd amendment rights for the sake of government accountability, and I won't discuss the frog in the kettle scenario. Despite my desire to go off on a tirade, this blog isn't set up for that reason.  I want to talk about finding peace with ourselves and others.  

Leaders aren't always going to get it right: far from it.  What they choose to do will often enrage us.  They aren't perfect, nor should we just tolerate their imperfections. Not all anger leads to sin.  In fact, some anger is essential if we are going to mirror a holy God of justice.  We have to stand up for what's wrong, but (to quote the movie again), we have to remember "who the real enemy is" and thereby, we have to remember what our real purpose is too.  Satan would like for nothing better for us to fight for a good cause as long as it kept us from fighting for the essential one--spreading the true Gospel. 

Let's not confuse what that is either: it's not just giving a helping hand or loving sacrifice. As my pastor, Ted Cunningham, breaks it down, the Gospel is essentially this:
                          1. I am helpless and lost.
                          2. Jesus is my rescuer.
                          3. God accepts the work of Christ on my behalf. 

And out of that truth comes an outpouring of love and sacrifice for others--not as a merit to earn a salvation we desperately need, but as a thankful overflow of grace that's been gifted to us. It's done out of love or it's done for the wrong reason and means nothing (I Corinthians 13). 

As Matthew 25 tells us, Jesus was clear: what we do for the least of these, we do for Him. 
But the benefits don't just rest in His glory; they bounce back to us as well.  

The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:25

Acts 20:35  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

So the next time you are tempted to hoard or boast, remember that all comes from Him and all is a gift.  We are called to share that gift, not keep it for our own comfort or prestige. Let His abundance flow out and over others. 

I John 3:17  But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

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