Friday, August 07, 2009
Conviction vs. Convenience
Two words that begin quite similarly, but whose implications are starkly opposed, are conviction and convenience. Yeshua Hamashia's disciples must pursue a growing awareness of their Master's teachings, and a growing application of those teachings to their daily lives. In short, they must adopt and live by his convictions ... whether or not it is convenient. For the Christian, Jesus is all there is. I have to thank Focus on the Family for broadcasting an interview with Mike Yankoski about his book, Under the Overpass, which recounts his experiences traveling with his friend Sam Purvis as indigent, homeless men. Here's a link to Yankoski's book web site, and go here for his personal web site. Their goal was to discover how God's church responds to and cares for homeless people. In a nutshell, they found the church offering just about a nutshell's worth of proactive love to these two homeless men who may have appeared ragged and dirty, but were obviously sane and sober. Two possible explanation exist for the church's apathetic response to their obvious need: First, members of Christ's earthly body may assume that homeless people are down on their luck through their own fault; they are lazy, drunk, or stoned, and any help Christians give them will go toward perpetuating their irresponsible lifestyle. While that may be a valid concern, Christ's followers seem quite willing to assign the worst of motives to those who are less fortunate, perhaps even using their suspicions as grounds for dismissing those in need with a trite blessing and an promise of prayer. Or second, God has removed his Holy Spirit's lamp stand from far more congregations than anyone has suspected. Our blasé attitudes toward others' needs might be more forgivable, however, if we actually remembered to pray as promised. Luke chapter ten paints a vivid picture of attitude problems among religious folks with the parable of the good Samaritan. A hapless traveler fell victim to bandits, who left him to die, bleeding in the ditch alongside the road. The first two travelers passing by the injured man were priests, who couldn't risk touching his blood and becoming ceremonially unclean; an attitude akin to today's church people who welcome into their fold only those who are suitably sanitary and affluent. But the third person to approach the bloody traveler, a despised Samaritan, demonstrated his compassion by going out of his way to attend to his need. Then, as now, religious people abdicated their god-given responsibility to care for those in need. We know of their fear of contamination, but perhaps they also feared the bandits would lay hold of them if they paused to help, though God's commands to care for the needy allowed no such exception. Or, maybe helping the poor guy was simply inconvenient.