Saturday, January 9, 2010

From the Heart

A lot of people think I'm this huge activist or something. I guess compared to some people, you could say that. I tend to nag people when they throw out plastic water bottles and I have that toiletries case made of recycled rice bags. By nature of my field of study, I also happen to know a little about the problems in different countries -- poverty, trafficking, genocide, corruption -- and can spout some statistics, because that's what International Studies majors do. I like to think I'm somewhat aware, and I probably try to project this persona of a girl who knows what's up.

But let's look at the facts. I have a closet full of clothes and I don't wear but seventy-five percent of them on a normal basis. I spend absurd amounts of time buying overpriced coffee and listening to overpriced music. I stand in the shower way too long because I like the feeling of the hot water. I complain when my scholarship check comes in with less leftover than I had hoped because of the tuition hike or extra expensive books.

My point is that I am not the great person I am told I am, and am even less the great person than I like to think I am. It's a good thing that the bigger the cracks are in my heart, the more that Christ shines through.

He is actively shaping me into a new, compassionate, generous, merciful, justice-loving woman after His heart. But do I even know the heart of the Almighty? I mean, what labels can our human minds even try to pin on His character? It's ridiculous to think that words like love and grace are both vague and magnificent in their own right, and those are just words. The infinite wonder of God is only just barely touched by anything we can use to describe Him. Those words are plenty for our ability to understand as it is.

What really blows my mind is how much scripture describes God as one who thirsts for justice for the oppressed and the poor.

"But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless." Psalm 10:14

"For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them." Isaiah 61:8

"'...but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord." Jeremiah 9:24

"'He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?' declares the Lord." Jeremiah 22:16

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

"Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God." Leviticus 19:10

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19

"Then Jesus said to his host, 'When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.'" Luke 14:12-14

These are just a sampling of my favorite verses that show just how concerned God is over the case of those who lack earthly possessions and liberties. How beautiful is the passion that God has for all the people He has created, despite what other cruel people hand them. The truth is that this is a broken world. God would love nothing more than to see us work and sacrifice to see others receive the help they need. Let us not forget, though, what Paul says:

"If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." I corinthians 13:3

I gain nothing. I gain no peace. I gain no understanding. I gain no satisfaction. I gain no wisdom. I gain nothing. At first it may sound selfish to be worried about what I would gain from acting without love as my motive, but this insinuates in a way that I will not gain anything that will enable me to give even more, or gain qualities that the Lord prizes and adores Himself. This really hurts everyone else as much as myself.

It all really boils down to love. And who would know love better than the Lord God who is love, embodies love, creates love, inspires love?

Read I John 4. That sums it all up.

For how much He loves us, how hard should it really be for us to truly love one another?

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