Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Ordinary Heart

I have to give credit where credit is due even though I said I was not going to name names from the conference last week.  I won’t name names of those that disturbed me, but most were great and I can’t help but share their words.

Christine Caine is the founder of A21, a ministry with the mission of ending human trafficking.  (If there was one reason I feel like God had me at this particular conference, I am convinced it was to hear her heart because I have silently been overwhelmed and burdened by this global injustice issue for the last year at least and have had no idea what to do about it or if I should even consider tackling something other than poverty alleviation.  It is something I have been praying about for just as long.  It’s so cool when things become crystal clear.)  But her message was not about human trafficking or slavery.  (I attended a Q&A breakout session with her later that day on that topic.)  Instead she spoke about “The Ordinary Heart”.  About her heart and my heart and yours.

She began by explaining that the only reason darkness is on the earth is because there is an absence of light.  And WE are the reason for it because we allow darkness to reign in some places when we refuse to shine the light of Jesus into those areas. 

“We have hearts that lead us to do nothing.  We do not deliberately withhold compassion, but we do not think beyond our personal worlds.”

Isn’t that the truth even though it’s hard to admit?  Most people that I know are not deliberately withholding compassion and add myself to that group.  I want to love others with all of my heart.  I do not want to judge.  I don’t want to ignore a need.  And sometimes I do not.  Sometimes I am as compassionate as one can be.  But there are more times than not when I would rather not inconvenience myself and I turn away from what could be a life changing moment.  Life changing for another person and life changing for myself.

“If I am not loving my neighbor, I am not loving God.” 


“When good people do nothing, injustice strives.”

Being good is just not good enough though.  It isn’t “good enough” to get to Heaven or “good enough” to impact the world. 

“It is not the unredeemed (the rapist, the murderer), nor the broken (the abused, the poor) that do not do enough, it is the ORDINARY HEART, people like you and me, that do not do enough or nothing at all because we think that the problems are too big to solve so why do anything at all?”

“The church has confused compassion with emotion.”

She spoke about how we see a video on one of the big global issues (human trafficking, extreme poverty, etc.) and it makes us sad for a moment.  We may even shed a tear or two.  We are moved, sometimes to action for a short time.  But then life goes on, we get wrapped back up in our own little worlds and we forget that there is an entire world of injustice out there.  That is not compassion.  That is emotion.  And emotion is not is what is needed to make a change.

The story of the good Samaritan is always talked about during conferences like this.  We know two passed by without caring enough to show any compassion.  They were probably in a hurry to get to the synagogue and had no time to stop to help.  Crossing the street and showing compassion to this man would have been an inconvenience.  Chris said, “Until we are willing to cross the street and be inconvenienced, nothing will ever change.”

“It is Billy Graham AND Mother Theresa.  Not either/or.”  We cannot focus on only sharing the Gospel verbally while ignoring the physical needs of others and we cannot be just humanitarians while neglecting to share the Gospel.  Jesus did both and we have to do the same.

“When we have to hold a conference like this to remind the Church to be compassionate, something is fundamentally wrong.”

Amen!  As I sat there throughout the conference I realized that it’s always the same people at these type of events.  The same pastors, the same ministry leaders, the same people from the Church that are pumped up about local and international missions.  And yet we are still having conferences to learn how to get people involved, whether within our churches or in the general public.  Something is seriously wrong.  Do we have churches full of people that are not willing to deny themselves convenience in order to show compassion to those in need?  The answer saddens me.  I have heard excuse after excuse as to why people cannot or will not become involved in local or global missions.  And that is really all it is.  Excuses.  And Christine addressed that.

“Until our hearts are engaged, we will always find an excuse as to why we cannot “cross the street.”

Why is there still so much injustice in the world?  Some blame God.  They ask why He hasn’t done something.  Why He allows it to continue.  It isn’t God’s fault.  It is ours.

“It is our silence that allows people to remain in unjust situations.”

I wonder if we will ever see an end or even a significant change in the right direction to some of the big global issues?  And I still wonder why do more people not care?  Is it because so many have not seen it first hand or because it is easy to ignore from the comfortable lives we lead?

For me, it is hard to shut off the images that race through my mind every day and I cannot possibly turn my back on those that I do not even know that are suffering injustice around the world.  The Lord created in me a heart that longs to go beyond faceless statistics and to not only know their names, but to see their lives changed both now and for eternity.  It took far too long for me to give in to the Spirit’s leading to GO.  And even now I tend to pull back and resist at every nudge to do something new or out of my comfort zone that I know will be hard and uncomfortable.  I have the God given passion, but I still have that human nature that doesn’t always want to be as compassionate as I need to be.  So I pray for myself and the rest of us, that we will remove ourselves from the equation and be willing to follow Him with every part of ourselves despite the cost.  We may be ordinary, but He created each of us to make an extraordinary impact for the Kingdom.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

One of your best ever posts and one that could go mainstream. Love your heart Terry. May we all be moved past tears while facing the monitor to life altering compassion.