Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Resources and Suffering

I've just finished watching this past Sunday's sermon from Mars Hill Church. (See the previous post) As often happens when something hits me particularly hard or tugs at my emotional control, I want the rest of you to experience it as well. I want to talk about it with friends who have heard what I've heard and seen what I've seen. I want to know how it impacted your life and changed your course. Or how it didn't. I want to hear your conviction or your skepticism.

This sermon is like that. Mark Driscoll, pastor, took a trip to Haiti shortly after the quake. In his numb, emotionally drained state of mind, he presents his experience and the stories of the people he met to his congregation. With pictures and video, some part of the devastation comes through to those of us who will not experience it first hand. It's a little like the news accounts, only Pastor Mark is specifically seeking out those involved in the Christian church of Haiti. Just like in America, when tragedy strikes, people often turn to the church for help and answers. They are doing that in Haiti. Some of the churches are housing people like refuge camps. They are centers for distribution, safe places to sleep, and a source of community encouragement - even if "church" is now the middle of a soccer field.

But as I watched the final video, set to "It Is Well", I couldn't help but hear Pastor Mark's words

"....we need to soberly assess today whether we love the church or whether we're using the church"

Think about that.

And if we love the church, we love it internationally. Not just the people we physically worship with each Sunday, but the people all over the world who will make up that amazing "great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb". (Rev. 7:9)

Are we soaking up resources at our local church? Or are we loving the church, the way we've been called and challenged to do?

"The truth is we have the resources to do every single thing - everything - every single thing that God would have us to do. We have the resources, and they're in your pocket."

They're in my pocket. They're in yours. Pastor Mark was speaking to his own congregation at that moment, but truth be told, we live in America and those words apply to all of us. We are so blessed in this country. So blessed. So blessed, in fact, that we've come to see it as a right. Something we demand. If we're not living at the same standard that we see around us, somebody better fix it.

There is a lot of suffering in this world. Right now, a whole lot of it happens to be camping out in Haiti. Literally. And just because the world is focused on Haiti doesn't mean other suffering takes a vacation. There are still families all over this world dealing with more in one day than some of us will face in a lifetime. Yes it's overwhelming. None of us can fix it. We weren't meant to.

But we've been instructed to "Carry each others burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."(Galatians 6:2) If you can help someone bear a burden, do it. If you can send money, send it. If you can share water, share it. If you can send infant care kits, put them together. If you can pass hours in the waiting room with fearful friend, do it. If you can go muck out houses, pack your work clothes and go.

But don't hoard the resources. Suffering is suffering. If you've got what it takes to help, get out there. If you can't help far away, then let the earthquake shake up your comfort zone at home. Be the church.

My thoughts on this feel jumbled and heated. I saw comments on Facebook earlier this week that stoked the fire inside. People who are "tired of all this Haiti" stuff. But it's really not just about Haiti. It's about love. And looking beyond ourselves. And recognizing the scale of the blessings we've been given.

Then turning back and saying thank you....and sharing.

One last point - repeated from the top - this sermon hit me particularly hard and tugged at my emotional control. Don't think I'm not talking to myself. But before you agree with or take issue with anything I've written....watch the sermon.


Jennifer said...

I agree with the part about the facebook posts this week, Julie. Rush and I were just talking about how enraged (and saddened) we were about it. Seriously, in this country, who doesn't have an opportunity at least to raise themselves up with hard work and a little luck? How many people in Haiti have that same chance? How many orphanages do you see in the US? NONE. How many in Haiti....probably hundreds. These people were aching and suffering long before the quake....and the situation is so much more desperate now. People need to wake up to the needs of the world and look beyond their own backyards. There is such tremendous need....ESPECIALLY for people who aren't blessed enough just to live in this country every day.

MomBrose said...

SO well said. Thank you for taking the time to share.

The Three Amigos said...

Jules, you know that Reed is there and I've never been more proud of his career in the Navy than I am right now. No, he's not passing out water bottles but he's keeping the ship on its course so that the helos can do what they need to do. They have flown out close to 6000 gallons of water so far! And they often bring patients back after dropping supplies off. Its amazing. And yet, its not enough. Reed has also said that they are starting to see bodies floating in the ocean. :( That is just so disheartening.

And, I agree with you about those comments about Haiti on FB earlier this week. I can't believe some of what I read. These people are worse off than our homeless and yet there are citizens of this country that think we should be helping said homeless instead. There's no doubt they need help too but when we as a country see a need, that we can easily meet, then we should.