Opened Eyes - A Call To Help The Least of These

I had a conversation the other day with two good, well-intentioned, Christian friends who I could not convince that the needs of the poorest in our community are nothing compared to the needs of the poor in other places around the world.

I remember when we did the Rock 4 Water concert to raise money to provide clean drinking water to Liberians. The people from Hope 2 Liberia had a booth set up. Someone from Antwerp expressed to them, "I just don't get it. Look at all the people around here that need help. Why aren't we helping everybody around here?"

One of my friends told me about a poor person in our community who lives in a rundown house and has to live off of his meager social security check for the month. Imagine fifteen people living in that small, rundown house without a job anywhere in sight, no social security, no running water, and no electricity, then you will see how wealthy even the American poor are. Imagine that one in four of the kids born in that house won't live to the age of five, none of the kids will have an opportunity to reach their full potential because they have no access to education. That's the difference. American poor have needs, but some poor have greater needs.

My friends tried to convince me that it was the world's poorest's choice to live like that. That's a common idea in American because poverty in America is typically a result of the choices that individual has made in their past. It might be a choice hampered with addictions, but it's still a choice. But it's no choice to be born in a poor society, to not have access to clean drinking water, to feel fortunate to have only one meal a day, and to not receive an education. It's no choice to be born under a totally corrupt government. That's not a choice. It would be a choice if, like us, they have access to clean drinking water, yet choose to drink dirty water. We could all go down to the Maumee and drink straight from the river, but we are all blessed to have convenient and safe water from our taps. That's a choice that the least of these around the world don't have.

We deemphasize how blessed we are because of the faithfulness of those who have gone before us. The American "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality is only available because of the great society we live in. The schools in our communities. The families we grew up in. The clean water we have available. The food on the table. The spiritual foundation of our society.  All things we take for granted, yet we barely have anything to do with. Things that aren't there for the poor around the world.

It's not their choice to live like they do. They can't choose to go to rehab or a counselor and get their life straightened. They can't choose to work hard in a fair society to have all of the nice amenities that we take for granted. They can't choose to load up in the car they don't have and travel with the money they don't have to a better place. They dream of the paradise we take for granted and know as normal life.

We are blessed. They may not have a choice, but you do. It's your choice if you will help give them a hand up. Jesus said, "What you do for the least of these you do to me." Are you going to do anything for the least of these?

I have a little exercise for us. This may seem strange but work with me here.

Say these things out loud as if they were true.

There is a little boy who will die if I don't give him clean drinking water.

There is a little girl who will not reach her potential if I don't provide her with an education.

There is a family who will lose a child to hunger if I don't feed them.

If you really believed these statements you just said, would you do something about them?

Now, I'm not asking you to stop loving your neighbor in the town you live in. We have people in our community in need. People we can help. These needs are different and, typically, not as fatal, but God has placed us where we are for a reason. To love our neighbors. But it's not an either/or situation. I am not asking you to stop loving people in our community, but to also love your neighbor just across the ocean. A neighbor you could send money to tomorrow if you wanted. A neighbor who can receive help from organizations that are just a phone call away. We're so blessed that we don't even have to go overseas to help.

When Jesus gave his tough teaching about loving our neighbors, one of the guys asked, "Who is my neighbor?" He didn't ask to know who to love; he asked to get out of loving. What's the bare minimum that I have to do to follow Jesus' teachings? That's not the question we should ask. Jesus replied with the story of the Good Samaritan teaching that our neighbors are anyone who we see in need. A better question is, "What opportunities do I have to be the hands and feet of Jesus?"

William Wilberforce once said, "You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know."

Those of us who have been blessed are blessed to be a blessing. Not to selfishly indulge in our blessings. Our communities suffer from selfishness of all sorts. I suffer from selfishness of all sorts. But God calls each one of us to something greater. The least of these around the world need something greater. Jesus is waiting to be loved.


Below are a few videos that emphasize the same point, albeit in a sarcastic, comedic way.