In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they might see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven. Matthew 5:16
"You're too kind," he said. It made me sad.
Today in the Tiger Den (for you non-Tigers, that's our cafeteria, and by cafeteria I mean where the Subway and Chick- Fil- A are) a man with full hands and arms and a backpack dropped his packet of ketchup on the ground. Instead of picking it up, for fear of dropping a lot more than ketchup, he started kicking it toward an empty table. He kicked the packet right into my pathway, and without thinking, I picked it up and handed it to him. When I did this, I wasn't really thinking, and I definitely was not expecting to hear, "You are too kind. Thank you so much for that." Now, I realize this could have been his normal, polite response whenever someone helps him out, but it could have been a genuine "thank you." So here's where I'm at:
Why are we shown so much gratitude for something so small? Do we live in a world that is so concerned with self, that a simple gesture has become reason for spoken gratitude? And if we do, why is that okay? I don't know if it was ever really like this, but you hear songs and read books about people that would do anything for anybody.The bible is filled with stories of people dedicated to reaching out and bringing people in, doing whatever they could for anyone if it meant they saw Christ through them. If it's in the bible then we know, at one point, this is how people lived, so why aren't we living like that now?
As Christians, shouldn't we live by the standard of giving ourselves for the sake of others? Our goal and our purpose should be to display Christ' love in our actions and our lifestyles. We should be people of accountability, of trust, of reliability. Instead, we actively participate in a world that is so self-consumed that picking up a packet of ketchup off the ground for someone struggling to balance everything is suddenly a heroic act. In our world, this gesture that should be second nature, means that we are kind and considerate and not self-obsessed. If that's all it takes, what would happen if we started doing real things for each other; things that actually take time and effort and sacrifice? I'm not sure any of us would know what to do.
That's the sad part- not only should we know what to do, we should be examples of this because we live for Christ who walked the Earth as a living example for us. Our teacher is the one who invented kindness and generosity and compassion, and he gave all of us the potential for such things. Instead though, we float on by with our own lives, only lending a hand where it's noticed or when it's convenient for us. Seriously, this is what has come of the people who have been appointed and entrusted by Christ to carry on His good works.
And taking it a step farther, isn't this what has happened to the modern church? We are all about bringing people in and helping them find the truth in life, but is it more about convenience? Are we willing to travel like Paul, or give our lives to bringing people to Christ? Some churches are great at this, and they have an outreach that has reached across the ocean, but what about the majority? Our doors are open, but don't ask us to come to your door first. What happened to the people being the church, and the church goes wherever the people are? Isn't that how we should be living?
These might just be my own convictions, but I think it's something we should all be more aware of. Our goal for ourselves should be to live as people from whom generosity and kindness and outreach are expected. People should not be surprised when we reach out and do whatever we can for them. They should know that's what we're going to do. Our goal in all of this should be to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of this world. When we are living in love, we are living in Christ. After all, whatever we do for the least of thee, we do for Christ, right?
Like I said, these might just be my own convictions. I go to a wonderful church, as I'm sure many of you do, but I think it's easy to get comfortable and forget that the purpose of living for Christ is about going beyond our own comforts. Comfortable is a scary place to stay. Challenge yourselves to live as people from whom kindness and generosity is expected. Challenge yourselves to do everything with a cheerful heart, without grumbling or complaining. When someone needs something, be there for them, and let Christ use you to reach others.