“You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of My sheep will die today because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are My youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around. If you truly love Me, you will feed My sheep. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing the blessed people and serving the saved.”
Blessing the blessed and serving the saved.
I have not been able to get these words out of my mind since I first read them in Jen Hatmaker’s book, “Interrupted,” last summer.
These words have been messing with my head for the last six months. They’ve caused me to reexamine my church life, my service (or lack thereof), and my idea of what “mission” looks like. These words have turned me upside down.
You see, of the six billion people living on our planet, about 1.2 billion live on 23 cents a day. If you make $35,000 annually, you are in the top 4%. If you make $50,000 annually, the top 1%. Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.
Could it be that when Jesus said, “Feed my sheep,” He actually meant “Feed my sheep”? As in, give them actual food to eat. Hatmaker writes, “We appear indulged and entitled and oblivious to global crises and our contribution to the disparity.”
Let me be clear right now – I’m not here to shame anyone. I am applying this strictly to myself first. I am a rich, spoiled, selfish, so-called Christian living the high life while my brothers and sisters around the world are literally starving. How is this okay?
Yes, we plan outreach events and invite our neighbors to VBS and buy coats for the poor and presents for children with incarcerated parents.
And then we eat out three times a week, go shopping, pick up our daily Starbucks, fill our homes with books or bikes or electronic devices, all while patting ourselves on the back for sitting in church one hour a week IF we’re not busy “resting” or planning a day at the zoo with our kids.
It’s not enough. It just isn’t enough.
I live in California’s Bible belt, in an affluent suburb. I send my kids to private school. I drive a minivan. I’m a clichéd soccer mom. And yes, my husband works hard to provide. We serve our church. We’re committed to raising our children in the Word. We’re dedicated to living out God's commandments as best we can. We reach out to the people around us and are bold in sharing His Word with them.
It’s not enough.
We support orphan children in Armenia and donate to those going on mission trips and tithe regularly to our church. We’ll buy a meal for the homeless guy and pray for those in need. We’ll plant a tree and take goodies to the women’s shelter.
It’s not enough.
We have more resources at our fingertips than most people do around the world and yet we spend most of it on ourselves. Maybe this is a generalization, and I’m sorry if it hurts, but I feel that it’s true – and it starts with me.
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. (Luke 6:20)
So what will this look like in my life? I’ve been wrestling with it for months. It’s caused a complete transformation in my thinking. It’s been unsettling. Uncomfortable. Frightening.
Do I really want to ask God to show me what to do? Am I ready to accept where He will lead me? Am I willing to ruffle some feathers? Am I really ready to live a different life?
“If people around me aren’t moved by my Christ or my church, then I must be doing a miserable job of representing them both,” writes Hatmaker. She quotes Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, who observed, “We cannot think our way into a new kind of living. We must live our way into a new kind of thinking.”
I want it. In fact, I’m starving for it, even if I’m afraid of it. It’s time to live on mission.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.