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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Colossians: Human Nature in Three Easy Chapters | On Lust, Obsession, and Self-Sacrifice »
    Friday
    Dec102010

    A Little Perspective: Things Could Always Be Worse

    In 2000, I had the opportunity to be part of an eye-opening summer mission’s trip to inner-city Dayton, Ohio. I went with my younger sister and several youth groups from various local churches, spending the week maybe 20 miles away from home, sleeping on the floor of an inner-city church via sleeping bags.

     

    It was a whirlwind week in which we all received a taste of various ministries happening right in our own backyards. It was the first time I ever helped out in a soup kitchen, the first time I ever helped paint, weed, and clean up someone else’s backyard. It was the first time my eyes were really opened to living conditions and life circumstances of those outside my personal circle of friends.

     

    It was also the first time I ever “street witnessed” to others. Walking around a prescribed area of downtown Dayton and admiring the architecture with my partner, Mike, we both felt uncertain of what to do and too shy to boldly ask a stranger, “Excuse me, but do you know Jesus?”

     

    I do not remember talking to anyone else besides Buddy. We happened upon him at a large fountain where we asked him about Jesus and he asked us (politely) to leave him alone. A short time later, we noticed the rest of our youth group gathered around him, listening and asking questions.

     

    We joined them and learned his name was Buddy, and he was homeless. As he munched a Subway sandwich he recognized my partner and I. He asked us to excuse him for earlier; he had been praying, he said.

     

    He patiently spoke to his audience of 15-17 year olds, giving us his testimony. He told us how he became a Christian, how he had not always been homeless or even poor (I have since forgotten the details of his fall into poverty, but I seem to remember it involved a severe illness of his mother’s), but despite his hardships he reminded us, “Things could always be worse”.

     

    He had seen people in desperate health, others handicapped with missing limbs or severe mental illness (or worse). He thanked God that he had a nice shelter by the fountain (for the time being), for his good health, and for every meal.

     

    We thanked him for his time and words, and as we walked away I glanced back once more. There was Buddy, reclining and gazing contently at the fountain while the summer sun slowly sank behind buildings.

     

    I still think of Buddy every now and then, and have to giggle at God’s irony. We were there to minister to him, but he ended up ministering to us instead. I remember too the lyric,

    "Birds have nests. Foxes have dens, but the hope of the whole world rests on the shoulders of a homeless man [Jesus]...and the world can't stand what it can't own, and it can't own You, 'cause You did not have a home".

    (from You Did Not Have a Home by Rich Mullins, based on Matthew 8:20 and Luke 9:58)

     

    "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25)

     

    Do Not Worry: Matthew 6:25-34 (This however, is not saying "do not work")

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

       28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

    31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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