Today is a day. One of those days. When annoyances and wrong-doing sneak up and slap us in the face. Grab our ear and try to pull us out the door and down an ugly path. I’ve been praying a lot. Praying over this world. Praying over its brokenness and cruelty. At this moment I’m not concerned with the dissolution of the family, absent fathers, the opioid crisis, being “invaded” by migrants, or any of the other hot button topics of the day. America’s, and Christians’ biggest crisis, is selfishness.
This may seem really basic, but words carry a lot of baggage and connotations, and I’m constantly telling my students to look things up….even words as customary as “selfish.”
(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
In America in 2018, selfishness rules. I’m not one to stand on the lawn with a water hose, but it’s impossible not to when it comes to selfishness and now. Humans have always been selfish. It’s the hubris that takes down our heros. It’s the reason we need Jesus so. very. badly. Every day, every hour, every moment. He is the hero immune to selfishness.
Tragically, in our selfishness we change Jesus. We change God as a whole. We change Him to make us feel ok about our weakness and our temptation. We want so terribly to be justified, vindicated, and right, we change Him. We change Jesus.
We change Jesus.
Let that sink in.
We want to believe Jesus would look down on our neighbors, you know…those neighbors. Or we think He would feel like our hatred and judgement are justified. We keep them to ourselves, after all. He’d be totally fine with me not welcoming that stranger. Someone else will feed that person. That person will find water somewhere.
On their side of the fence.
In their own country.
Some other nation.
Some other church.
Some other time.
But that’s not what Jesus said. He makes it very clear…
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus has shown us how to love our neighbor. He’s shown us how to speak up in the midst of cruelty. He’s shown us acceptance. He’s shown us love. He shows us every day. Can we resist our own selfishness in an effort to love?
In this season of Jesus’s birth, I know we can do better. We can face down our own selfishness. We have to reflect His light…on ourselves and the world.
Son of God and Son of man
There before the world began
Born to suffer, born to save
Born to raise us from the grave
Christ the everlasting Lord
He shall reign forevermore
Be the light of the world. Do it. It’s work.