Thursday, April 22, 2010

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity. - Buddha

I stayed up way too late last night watching Lord Save Us From Your Followers. I highly recommend finding a copy of this and watching it. I did not agree with every thing that was said in this documentary but I think the lessons you can learn from the it are much more important.

The documentary, is about a guy going around the country to learn why people love Jesus or believe in him but do not like Christians. It touches a bit on politics as it often seems to be Christians/Conservative against the Nonbelievers/Liberals. But the last part of the movie was basically about how Christians can gain more respect among people who do not consider themselves Christians. And the answer is to not judge, to simply love and serve.

This message struck a cord in me for many reasons and I would like to share with you what I learned and gained from the movie.

Conservatives and Christians often focus on behaviors that they view as wrong and how society is encouraging those behaviors. We do not believe in abortion and we do not believe that it is okay to be gay nor should the government legislate such behavior. Some Christians even believe and openly preach that those who do such things have a one way ticket to hell. I do not think there is anything wrong with being politically active in such issues. In fact, because of my political and religious beliefs, I think it's important to be actively trying to influence the government on such issues. And I do think that politics and religion are inseparable. But we often forget something important. There are real people behind these issues that we often forget about. And despite what we believe about what they are doing, it is not okay for us to ignore them. I have a few friends who are gay and I am simply thankful they are still willing to be my friend despite my views because I have to often witnessed and heard of friendships being lost over someone being gay. You can disagree with their behavior without disliking them as a person. It is not our place to forget these people, to not serve them if they are in need, and to say they deserved what they got because they sinned. Rather, it is our job to continue to view them as our brothers and sisters, to serve them when they are in need, to love them anyways. And "if we love someone we go out of our way to learn the best of who they are," (quote taken from some random guy in the movie).

This can also be applied to the poor in a few different ways. First, people sometimes look at the homeless and say "the probably got what they deserved." But no matter what they did to get on the streets, it does not mean we should not serve them. If you don't want to hand them money that could go to drugs and alcohol, then buy them a warm meal. You could even get them a change of clothes or perhaps take them to a place where they can clean up and take a hot shower. One group in the movie would go on the streets and serve the homeless at night. The acts of service include hair cuts, washing their hair, talking and listening to them, washing their feet and giving them a new pair of socks to wear.When those being served were asked why they thought these people were doing such kind things for them the answer was often "because they believe in Jesus." More of us could be doing acts of service like that. More of us could be showing that we believe in Jesus (and God) and want to live like he did. He served the poor, the needy, the sick, the hungry, etc. and so should we.

The second way I think this can be applied is that Conservatives often disagree with government welfare programs. We view helping the poor and needy as an individual decision that should not be forced. But how often do we go out of our way to help the poor so the government doesn't have to? How often do we give them a lending hand or simply a hug so they know they are cared about? How often do we judge them instead of serving them? The same service that we often practice to fellow church members should be practiced to people who are not church members as well.

I do not consider myself a hard hearted person who will not give of her time or money. But my husband can attest to the fact that I too often judge others for what they did to get themselves in a hard spot, or for how they are using their time and money to help them better their situation. He taught me the same lesson a few weeks ago, that this movie did. It is not our position to judge them. Everyone (or almost everyone) deserves help on some level, and it is our place to give it if we can. I need to become less judgmental and less lazy and become more willing to serve. I need to seeks ways to serve and stop waiting for the chance to be handed to me.

I am not saying that in every single case service should be rendered, that there are no rules to this matter. That is not the case either. If you can barely feed your own kid, you should maybe consider not give your few dollars away. Maybe you can serve them with your time instead. If you friend needs help to get to the abortion clinic and you don't believe in abortion, it is your right and duty to say no you can not help. But if they end up regretting the decision, months or years down the road, you can listen and help them through their struggles. 

The important lesson, especially for many Christians, is to love those that sin (you can do that without loving  their sin), love those that are different, and love those that you may not think deserve it.

I love the following lines from The Man Nobody Knows by Bruce Barton. I probably quote it too often but I love it and I think it fits perfectly with what I am trying to say.
There are two seas in Palestine.One is fersh and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks.Trees spread their branches over it and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters...
The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. Men build their houses near to it; and birds build their nests; and every kind of life is hapier because it is there.
The River Jordan flows on south to another sea.
Here no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, no children's laughter.Travellers choose another route, unless on urgent business.The air hangs heavy above its water and neither beast, nor man, nor fowl will drink.
What makes this mighty difference in these neighbor seas? Not the River Jordan. It empties the same good water into both.Not the soil in which they lie; not the country round about.
This is the difference. The Sea of Galilee recieves but does not keep. For every drop that flows into it, another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure. The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives. This other sea gives nothing. It is named Dead.
There are two kinds of people in this world. There are two seas in Palestine.
I think as the world becomes a darker and darker place, as certain behaviors we may disagree with become more and more common place, and as the government continues to legislate illegally, service and love should become more and more important. In fact, service and love may be the only thing that keeps this country together. We will always be far from perfect. There are people that I am not sure I could ever serve no matter the situation. But I, and you, have to work on becoming more and more perfect. To give more and more and to love more and more. And not to serve because we want to be blessed, because we expect we will be blessed, but to do it because we truly want to serve others.

I did not write this to judge anyone or any Christian church. It is simply what I got from the movie. You, the reader, may not agree with all I have said and that's okay. I would love to hear any thoughts, views, or differences of opinion on this matter. As long as it's done civilly and thoughtfully.

1 comment:

  1. Hey you won the giveaway on my blog for the Girls from Ames. If you email me (britni.vigil at your mailing address, I'll have them send you a copy. Congrats :)