We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
1 John 3:16-17
Dear God, I cannot remember if I mentioned this in a prayer the other day, but I know I was talking with a friend about it yesterday. I heard a podcast where two men and a woman were talking about having been to seminary and how they think the examples held up to pastors as those you should emulate are the wrong ones. Even as a society, we often point to those who have accomplished the most with broad influence and power and valued them more than we value the faithful volunteer whose work we never see. One person in the discussion joked that instead of holding up pictures of national leaders who are influential they should hold up a picture of one of the pastors in the conversation who was serving with a seemingly smaller sphere of influence. To the pastor’s credit, he said, “No, we need to hold up a picture of Jesus on the cross. That’s the example we need to be prepared to follow.”
This passage from 1 John 3 made me think of that this morning when I read it. You are my example. You didn’t care about government power or building the kind of power structure the world builds. That was another part of their discussion. One man described the Jesus movement of the 70s and how you had these radical Christians like Larry Norman and Keith Green who went counter-culture. Keith Green made his record label angry because he gave away his records. He bought a piece of property and started a commune for homeless people. But conventional wisdom (what I’m calling the wisdom of man) takes over and says, “Hey, we need to grow our influence and reach. We need to get this out and grow.” Then we start to focus more on strategy and infrastructure and building a kingdom.
I fall into this trap at work. I work at a nonprofit that serves people. It requires staff and money. It requires a facility. And then we meet as leadership and the question we ask ourselves is, what do we need to do to grow? What’s next? And we are certain there must be an answer. There must be something that is next to grow our numbers. But it’s likely we are asking the wrong question. Is the question, how do we add more clients, or is the answer how can we be more effective with the clients we have? How can we make a meaningful impact on a few lives as opposed to a cursory impact on thousands?
Father, I am sorry I do so many things for the wrong reasons. I’m sorry for relying so much on conventional wisdom. I’m sorry for not trying to see each and every situation with your eyes. Let my biblical hero be the widow who left her two coins in the offering. She lived a small life, but it still reverberates through history 2,000 years later.
In Jesus’s name I pray,