Yesterday, I wrote about what it means to love our neighbors and help those in need. Today I will continue with some additional thoughts.
Another factor pulling on us in this discussion is how much more connected our world is than it was during Lewis’s time. Many people, especially in our American nation made up of immigrants, see the rest of the world as “our people.” We are all part of the human race, right? So, why shouldn’t we want to help when disasters strike elsewhere or when we become aware of a famine in a distant land? I’m not saying that we should care about Americans more than we care about Mexicans or Canadians. It is not really about whom you love more. You should love everyone. It’s more about who is closest to us. My neighbor is closest to me and Jesus told me to love my neighbor. The child in the village in India is not really my neighbor until I come into contact with him. He is someone else’s neighbor. And that Christian neighbor, if he has one, is the one with the responsibility and the call to love him. You may actually make it more difficult for Christians in other places to love their neighbors by competing with them and their limited resources.
Do you know that you do not need to have an abundance of physical resources to love someone? You may actually be challenged to get creative or to really sacrifice something of your own to love someone. That’s what Christians are doing in India and China and Uganda. That’s when love really shines in contrast with the darkness of self-preservation.
You may be overwhelmed by all the troubles of the world today. You may feel overwhelmed because of the way people are suffering on an island 3,000 miles away from you. Do you trust that God is sending people and already has people in a lot of the places about which you are worrying? Today, there may even be someone 300 miles from you who is worrying about her sister, who is also your next door neighbor, and you are the one God has placed in your neighborhood to serve her. Don’t allow the problems of the whole world to blind you and make you feel like you have to pass by the man in the road who was beaten and lost everything to thieves. Don’t allow your politics to get in the way of loving the alien who lives in your neighborhood and works the fields everyday to care for his family, and provide fruit and vegetables to your table. When you get very good at loving your neighbor who you can see, then maybe you will be ready to understand how to love your global neighbor who you can’t see.
The second part of Lewis’s quote is also a good reminder that worrying about the rest of the world will do very little to actually confront or solve the problems. If you are so consumed with the problems of the world that you have no joy, or are unable to enjoy the good things God has given you, you won’t be much help to people who are suffering. They need hope and they need a picture of what it looks like to live the abundant life with God. Don’t lose sight of the hope of the kingdom to come; and keep praying for that kingdom and God’s will to be done in both your neighborhood and the slum across the ocean, as it is in heaven.