Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jeremiah 17:5-17, Psalm 55, Philippians 4:1-13, John 12:27-36

Because Jesus gave with the view that people are equal, we, as Christians, ought to support the same view. When I went to Belize the summer before last, I felt uneasy. I had this strange feeling that the trip was about me, and not about the people I was supposedly going to help. When I reflected on these feelings, I realized I could understand them by examining a phrase that I hear from many people who go on mission trips, including myself: “I went to give to them, but they gave so much to me.”

The motivation to give, at least on the surface, is that we have more material resources (money) than those to whom we give. However, consider the mindset of many people who go on mission trips. I think it’s fair to say that most of them go for two reasons: to give materially and to give love. This leads to a contradiction, though, because if we are going there to give them both money and love, we do not just go because we have more money. We also go because we have more love, which implies that we are better in some sense than those to whom we are giving. A second common statement by those who have gone on mission trips resolves this: “When we realize how much love they give to us, it becomes clear that we are not going on these trips to give love, but to exchange love.”

This subtle realization changes our mindset from one that gives as people to one that gives as Jesus. One of the shortcomings of mission trips is that, over time, people tend to forget what they learned; they then have to wait for a later trip to relearn it.

Yet, if we were to forget this particular lesson and have to wait until the next mission trip to relearn how to give like Jesus, when, then, will we really give like Jesus?

--JDH

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