I’ve been challenged of late. I have been a part of a startup Internet business since 2004. It’s been a great growth experience, but it’s disturbing at times to realize just how easy it is to view life on a contractual, economic exchange level. I do, after all, have to take care of myself, and my family and close friends need attention to. I also can only do so much and truly know so many people. However…
I pass all sorts of people every day, and I rarely desire to stop and chat. I spend lots of time at our coffee house, and there, all sorts of people come in. And when working, it’s so easy to take a moment for the beautiful, the intelligent, the together, the friendly. Meeting new people, especially those who are different, can take work, can take energy. And you wonder, I wonder, if it’s worth it at times. It’s been said, for instance, that it’s a better investment of time to help someone who wants to succeed rather than spend time trying to raise someone who doesn’t have much desire to a higher level.
And yet, when I read the Bible, over and over, it talks about God’s concern for the poor, oppressed, widows, and orphans, those in need. I read verses like 1 John 4:17, “If any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
The thing is, I am all about loving the poor and loving my enemy, but when that person walks in, in the flesh, as a real person, it’s easier not too. And thats what we’re about, isn’t it: what’s convenient? So I spend time with people in many ways like me, trying to be liked, trying to contribute, and forget there are people ‘out there’ that I’ve forgotten how to relate to, if I ever knew. I feel the should and ought, but not the love. I forget that saying the right words and getting a result are secondary to an act of love, however pitiful an attempt, because love never fails.
Then I read the verse above again, and wonder who’s more in need, the one in need of goods, or the one who needs to love? In God’s kingdom, there’s no condition placed on love that says it is an investment, that it needs to be worth it, or any other terms that betray just how materialistic our mindsets are. No, the command is to love. It leads me to wonder who’s more impoverished. It reminds me that I am just as much in need, and it’s partially because I have so few practical needs that I miss the needs in my soul. Maybe it’s not so much about helping ‘those people’ as it is about extending myself and giving what I have…and learning, being taught, by the person who a moment ago I thought was less than me…not that I’d ever admit that. Maybe that person is there to teach me how to love.
Then I see a life change. It’s humbling and encouraging. A reminder to not give up on others…or myself.