We just returned from the deluge that was Madness. Our mission day became mission moments! In my case our house was supposed to be completely painted, but was only fully scrapped. While startlingly the students worked hard the whole time (often there will be a few who avoid effort at all costs), we were done well before lunch. Of course in the downpour painting was not an option… still as we left the half-finished task – the home looking worse than when we started – I questioned the purpose of mission trips?
My trouble with mission trips is not often the work we do. Normally, even with MS students, we are a able to accomplish a small service (and sometimes a great service). But my trouble is that we are so willing to love this random person, but if this same person lived next door or went to our school… we would talk behind their backs about their run-down house or cheap clothes. Even if we held our tongue, we would never be found painting thier house. At best we would offer a forced “hi”…
On this trip we all got soaked (At least those whose mission work was outside, for example, Andy Knight is jumping into the puddle for illustrations I made or check out the slide show in the next blog). Of course we bagged up our clothes and brought them home. But Laursa Beth left her wet clothes at the church. Right now they are sitting on my office floor and I can only imagine the smell inside that bag! In some ways this is like our faith. We are supposed to love our neighbor, but mostly we love ourselves… the living water of the gospel becomes rancid when locked inside (Ezekiel 47:11).
Who is our neighbor? ~ I love the bible, because it does not skirt any issues. There is no need for political correctness. Instead Jesus lays it out, black and white. Even the pagans and tax collectors are able to love the ones who show love to them. If this is all we do “what reward will we get?” Instead, Jesus declares, “Love your enemies”.
The Golden Rule comes right after Jesus’ discussion on prayer. It may seem a strange place, but instead I think it points to the reality that we want God to answer our prayers. We do not want rocks in place of daily bread. In this way we should strive to live for others, as though we were God’s answer to their prayers (and in our service we may become the answer).
We are on mission for God, not when we leave town, but every day. Really there is no scripture commanding us to leave town, but as we know, all the commands and the prophets can be summed up by two things: love God and love your neighbor. If we are willing to love those around us, from our parents to our pastor to our friends to our coaches to our neighbor to … even our enemies… We will find that we are a part of the mission of God. That we are establishing His Kingdom here on earth!