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Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Bible, a Bowl of Soup, and the Myth About Good People

  
The weather was cold. I mean really cold. And we were rushing down the sidewalk back to our hotel where we were going to pack up and leave when a lady rushed up to my side.

She touched my arm to grab my attention and immediately I noticed that she was poor. Or at least she looked poor, a little shabby, probably didn't have a home, and she might not have eaten in a while. I didn't know. I still don't know.

But what matters is that she looked up at me and asked for some money. You know how it is. There's a pause - and in that moment you have to make a decision. Am I going to help her or not?

And so right then and there on the cold sidewalk I made an important decision, reached in my pocket, and pulled out my small bible. I quickly asked if she had ever read the bible and she shook her head. Letting her know I still cared, I slipped the bible into her hands and rushed off down the street.
 
That's the last time I saw her. To this day I don't know if she ever read the bible... but that's not what haunts me.

Today I am plagued with another question.

What if that was my personal-all-marked-up-soft-goatskin-leather-cover-treasured-friend bible? 

What if that was the bible I had in my hand instead of the little one I was wanting to replace anyways?

Suddenly all my thoughts of righteousness are ground in the dust (where the should be in the first place) and I recognize that I can give without loving. And sometimes it's easy to give because it's the right thing to do and it doesn't really affect us that much.

In fact our whole society is set up that way.

Celebrities give to causes because it makes them look good and its simply the "thing to do".

Christians join bus teams and give away clothes and lunches to the homeless.

Even some (if not most) atheists will do a kind deed for a neighbor in need.


And let's face it - most of us think we're good people. I believe it's a myth. We've softened our lives so much that we think that when we give away a prepackaged soup bowl to some homeless fellow that we've done a good deed. And we have. In fact we need more hands like that feeding people in need...

but...

what if that was my last bowl of soup? period. What if I were as penniless as the homeless fellow himself, it was my last bowl of soup, and there was no one to see me give it away, there was no mission report to go give at a church somewhere afterwards, it was just me and this guy and no one would ever even know if I gave it away to him or not.

What if it was my favorite coat that was my great-grandfather's and that I treasure with a passion because of the legacy he left behind...

or... my personal-all-marked-up-soft-goatskin-leather-cover-treasured-friend bible?

What if it was your most treasured something... your last bowl of soup... your last crumb of bread? What would you do?

And would you do it because it is the right thing to do and you'd go to your death bed being "right" or would you do it because your heart overflowed so much with love for the homeless fellow that nothing could keep you from giving...

That's love.

He came and He gave because He loved so much that nothing could stop Him.

I want that kind of love. I choose that kind of love. I fight for it.

Do you?
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