I just read the following this morning in the introduction to a book called Red Letters by Tom Davis. It says so clearly what I have been thinking and feeling for years now but have been to inarticulate (or too judgmental or too weak) to put down in words. So I'm just going to copy it right here. It is truth.
The Christian church owes an apology to the almost fifty million individuals in our world currently infected with HIV/AIDS.
Those of us who claim to follow Christ's teachings should be ashamed for what little we've done to help the countless millions of women, children, and orphans who have died or are dying. Entire nations are going up in flames while we watch them burn.
Bono and the supporters of the ONE campaign are right to use words like "crisis" and "emergency" when talking about the situation in Africa. The continent is on fire with AIDS, and unless drastic action is taken, entire countries will be wiped off the face of the planet by this disease.
Sadly, the church has been slow to act in response to this crisis. Like the priest and the Levite of Jesus' parable, we have passed by the man on the side of the road, too busy or too "holy" to involve ourselves in lending a helping hand.
Africa is indeed on fire. But as we argue or fuss about how it started and who should be saved first, thousands more children are orphaned each day. Every hour, another one thousand children will die. Did you know that you are just a short plane ride away from a world where eight-year-old girls prostitute themselves for food?
The true state of emergency lies within the church- it lies within us. It's our problem. We can't leave Africa's children lying by the side of the road as we pass on by.
...History will judge our generation by how we responded to those in need. History will judge the church by how it responded. We have an opportunity to show the world what it truly means to be Christ-followers.
We can make a difference. We can change the world. When we lead with compassion, we can move from apology to action. And out of action springs hope- hope and life.
So, for our mistakes... I am sorry. But for our potential, for the impact you and I can have on a world in need... I am hopeful."
Please do not think that I write this from a place of "I'M doing something... what are YOU doing???" Not at all. Indeed if you know me even a little you know that my hesitation and reluctance at accepting this huge task have been embarrassing to me. I've been mortified to face the fact that I AM the one in Jesus' parable who has looked the other way and walked on by. Yes, in my heart I have cared, cared deeply. But guess what? Caring doesn't really help anyone. It's like loving someone but never telling them that you do- it simply doesn't count. The only thing that counts is doing something. And not just talking about how much you care. Demonstrating that care. Sacrificing my cushy life so that someone else might have life. Period.
Africa is our neighbor. And Jesus said to love your neighbor as you love yourself. He even said this was the second most important commandment, right after loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. We are failing at this command. We have to change. I have to change.
God- help me change. Help me to live simply so that others might simply live.