i am currently involved in a small group. its a great experience. joining with people on a journey, having people alongside you to ask the questions you have not even thought of, to show you something you didn't know was even there. people to support you, to love you, to inspire you when it seems to hard to do on your own. i really love it. we are currently making our way through a study based around the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. it has been interesting, the discussions have been great because our group comes from a very diverse background, and the places that people are at in their current lives lends itself to a dynamic that could not be manufactured.
there was a scripture reference that we read the other day. it was from the Book of James, which for those that know me are fully aware, its a book that i cherish, i love reading, and re-reading, a re-reading again James. this verse we read i have read several hundred times, i am sure of it. but for what ever reason, the way it was singled out in our discussion, it made me stop and really think it through. its a simple verse, its not something that needs a lot of theological debate about its hidden meaning, because its not hidden. the verse is James 4:17 (TNIV)
So then, if you know the good you ought to do and don’t do it, you sin.
for some reason, it just jumped at me, like a crazy man in the alley with a knife! it came at me and forced me to stop and look at what was happening. you see we all try and be the best we can, we try to behave, we try to be good little boys and girls. we say the right words, we say please and thank you, we hold open doors for people, we help little old ladies cross the street.
but we are responsible for so much more. we have an obligation. there are people hurting and we are ignoring it. we turn a blind eye, because its uncomfortable. its not easy to see poverty, to see homelessness, to see parts of our own communities that we wish weren't there. and we drive out of the way to avoid it. instead of getting dirty and doing what we know we ought to do, we don't do it, and we sin. and that is just locally. that's not even looking at AIDS, poverty, hunger, lack of water around the globe.
and that is just the stuff that is easy to explain, it is almost obvious that we could be doing something in those situations. if it comes down to it, i know that i can donate some money or time to a worthy cause that is helping these things. but what about the stuff that is harder to handle? what about the way we treat people different than us? what about homosexual people who we give a cold shoulder to because we don't really know how to address that. or people who have screwed up their lives and we aren't willing to give them a second (or third or fourth or 18th)chance? what we ought to do is love. we ought to be more concerned about the person, and less about their issues. i am someone who has been given extra chances by people closest to me. and i am forever grateful for it. i was moments from losing everything in my life, and that is not an exaggeration, that is a fact. but people stepped in. and did what they ought to.
this isn't even getting into the fact that Christ goes well beyond giving us our 18th chance, goes beyond what he ought to do. for Christ, he sets the example because for him, its not a discussion of what he ought to do, its what he does. its how we should strive to be. to a point where its not up for debate if we ought to do it or not, we just do what is expected of us.