We care for orphans. It’s just what we do. From the time I was a little girl, I had a passion to help the lost, rescue the hurting, advocate for those treated unjustly. It’s hard work and not always fun.
No one likes the trenches in a war. They are deep, dirty; they are darker, and sit below other people in the battle. Yet, I am learning, God does not always call us to “easy”. More often it’s the trenches He calls us to “go” to, to help other people.
Still, there is something inside us that constantly longs to be carried inside our velvet lined litters. You know, those wheel less chairs, propped up by other people. Deep inside our sin nature…if we are honest, transparent….we all long to be high and lifted up, acknowledged by other people.
Yet, even Christ came humbly, quiet, in a manger. And contrary to some thinking, God calls us to make disciples, to live missionally, bringing love, hope, healing, to fight for justice for those mistreated. And although those places can be difficult, there can be quick molding, humbling being done in quiet serving…if we accept it.
However, my mother always warned me, “It is a very short fall from where a halo turns into a noose.” And to be honest, at times I have been arrogant in my pursuit for equality, my heart to help the hurting.
Those who live daily doing social justice type work can likely relate, quickly suffering from something called a “Messianic Complex”…the thinking that as we help others, we somehow are their Messiah. We can fall into the trap of the first sin of Satan, wanting to exchange our role of servant for that of the Savior. It can creep up unrecognizable, as we crawl out from the trenches and sit high above other people, resting idly in our chairs wanting to be carried comfortably by other individuals.
If we are honest, we have all sat in that chair high above other people…not always in actions, but somewhere in our thinking.
Recently, we drove through a very poor region where other white skinned people surrounded; many toothless, smelly, and smoking; tattoos even covering the children. Quickly my flesh began lifting itself out from the trenches of….”How can I help? How can I love them?”….to wanting to stay hidden, quiet, separate, in my well lined litter (or my new car, if you will). I was self-righteous, pretentious, and to be quite honest…my heart was disgusting.
Even after leaving, thoughts shot at me like a machine gun aiming at a target now unprotected by the trenches of humility…”How could someone cuss like that in front of their kids?” “Where are their parents?”
I wanted to play God. I wanted to call CPS. I want to do something.
But, there was no crime. Only mine. And I saw how quickly working for social justice can lead even I, farther away from Jesus. After all, it’s not what we do, but the heart and the spirit that we do it in that matters.
Any halo I might have had now surely become a noose. I had a Messianic Complex. I had to repent.
Today, I encourage you. If God is calling you to help the poor, feed the homeless, fend for the widow, and care for the orphan; stay obediently in the trenches, recognizing we are all imperfect, following Jesus' model of humility, and diligently seeking the purification offered by His Spirit.
For unsuspecting, pride can rise quickly in serving, becoming our quickest enemy, leading other people not to…but away from Jesus.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented twelve children; ten foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world so desperate for the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women's. Jen continues to cling to faith that the local church is God's vehicle to reach the nations. You can find Jen writing about faith and challenging her readers at her blog,Rich Faith Rising. As well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Also, on facebook.
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