Saturday, July 17, 2010

On Paul, love, and bullies

There are so many things I want to write about and update you on but right now I'm only going to share some verses from my reading today. I have been reading in 1 Corinthians since I've been here and it has been sooo good. I highly recommend reading it if you haven't yet or for awhile. I love Paul and his bold teachings yet it's always filled with his deepest concern,emotion, and love. I love this book because there are so many practical applications and at the same time solid teachings on spiritual growth.
For some reason the New Testament, especially the gospels, comes so much more alive when I'm here. Maybe it's because this culture is so much more relatable to Bible times than our own and I feel like I have a lot more opportunities(challenges) to put things into practice.

The first verse that caught my attention is I Corinthians 10:24:

“Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.”

Here are some of our literal neighbors in front of their roadside shop

I'm sure this verse isn't new or comes as a surprise to anyone, nor did it me, but sometimes when I read things for myself from the Word and at certain times, it just slaps me in the face. There's no getting around the meaning and interpretation of this verse. It's so simple but also one of the hardest things to put into practice. 
Forget about my own wants and needs and worries and put someone else's own, even a stranger's, even an enemies, ahead of them?? Well that goes against my nature! I am an extremely selfish person. Of course, I have come here to help meet the many needs of some of the neediest here, but my flesh is just as apparent here as it is back home. I still find myself wanting to get time away for myself, not  feeling like going to church, feeling lazy and getting a bad attitude when I have to wash more dishes, fix another meal, tending to yet another crying child...and this is all for people that I love,even more so when it's someone that I don't know well or that I know has been gossiping about us, or worse...

Perfect example: 
A boy (about 14) from our village came to us with an infected wound a couple days ago, hoping that we could do something to help. Now, I knew from our kids having recently told me, that this boy will make fun of, curse at, and start fights with our kids just because they are not Igbo (the primary ethnic group of our area) and because they are orphans. He had been calling them some terrible names and really provoking our kids to anger. I'm not going to lie, this absolutely infuriated me and all I wanted to do was stand up for our kids and give this punk a lecture on why he's no better than anyone else and also a good whippin'! So when this sweet looking young man comes up to me with his wounded leg, the sinful nature in me wanted him to get an earful before we even thought about tending to his wound. Ahhh how wrong this attitude is! Why is it that that is my first thought?! But how much more of a witness is it to this boy to take him into our home, tend to his wounds, pay for his needed injections and medicine and even feed him (all of which we did), never treating him with any resentment, but with the very love of Christ?! If I live out this verse in every situation, what an amazing testimony that would be and opportunity to share the gospel! Now every time I see this boy he gives me a huge smile and I feel nothing but love and opportunity for him. This is not me, but Christ through me (and me learning a lesson), and how much more rewarding is that than if I had given him an earful and felt immediate, but fading gratification? Right now this boy is coming to our VBS and learning about Jesus. This all leads up to the other verses that are convicting me and I, through Christ in me, am trying to live out...
...If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
It is not arrogant or rude,
It does not insist on it's own way;
It is not irritable or resentful;
It does not rejoice at wrong doing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.”
I Cor.13:3-7

Will you pray with me that we can live this out in our lives? I truly believe we could change the world one life at at time if we did.

~Please continue to pray for will be going until monday. I can't wait to share with you about it!

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