The world isn’t small after all

Kansas isn’t a small state, but if you compare our population numbers to the rest of the U.S., we number among the lowest people per square mile (ranked 41 out of 50). While Wichita is the biggest city, it’s not uncommon to run into people you know on the streets regularly. Whenever that happens, how do we normally react? We exclaim: It’s a small world!

In some cases, it’s true.

The world gets smaller and smaller every day, especially when it comes to technology and communication. Ten years ago when my good friends Jim and Shelley Dinsmore moved to Guatemala as missionaries, it was a big deal to talk to them on the phone or video chat with them. But now, I stay updated with them continually on Facebook.

When my best friend moved to England, if we hadn’t been able to talk every morning, I might have gone a little nuts. But technology allowed us to stay in touch even though she lived 4,300 miles away.

So, yes, the world seems small, but is it actually shrinking? Of course, not. The only thing technology changes is our perspective.

Hebrews 13:16 Always PeachyOur perspective is the problem

You would think that being connected to every country, every person, and every source of information in the world would expand our thoughts. You’d assume that having a global mindset would encourage people to care more about those around them than before. But that’s not the case.

Our current generation is more selfish than it’s ever been, and it’s not just the younger generation that’s grown up with smartphones, virtual reality, and tablet computers. Our selfishness has nothing to do with technology, although I’m sure it hasn’t helped the situation. Human beings are naturally selfish. It’s part of our nature, and if we don’t check it, it’s a part of us that will take over our lives. (James 4:1-2)

Technology doesn’t make the world small. Our own self-interest does.

Open your eyes

Instagram Small World Always PeachyThat lady in the pew next to you is part of your world. The distracted driver on the road behind you is part of your world. The screaming child in the grocery store with his or her frazzled mother or father is part of your world. The grumpy teenager, the struggling elder, the blustering politician are all part of your world.

They all have bad days, just like you. They say things they later regret, just like you. And they need grace, just like you. But since we don’t see them as part of our individual world, we insult them or we complain about them or we discriminate against them. And instead of extending forgiveness, compassion, and understanding (Philippians 2:3-4) to those around us, instead we focus on ourselves and our own needs.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t care for ourselves. We need to be good stewards of the life God has given us, but that doesn’t give us the right to ignore people around us who we can help. (Proverbs 28:27)

The world isn’t small

So stop living in yourself. The world is full of people who are hurting and lost and discouraged. You don’t have to save the world. Jesus already did that. But helping others is something He wants us to do. (Hebrews 13:16)

Don’t wait. Take the opportunity to help someone when you can. You won’t regret it, and God won’t forget.

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Painted plaster rocking horse ornament, Haven, KS

Where Christmas lasts forever

I heard a song on the radio yesterday that bothered me. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but it got me thinking about what our perspective and our attitudes should be about Christmas as followers of Christ. Before I really start into this, though, I want to preface this post by saying I’m sure the song stemmed from the best of intentions. And I’m sure it probably is even a blessing to a lot of people. I honestly hope it is.

The song is called “One Last Christmas” by Matthew West (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ye39mgcHC3E). I love Matthew West songs. I love his ministry, and I read up on the events that inspired this song. And it truly is touching. Basically, a family with a 13-month-old child was told that he wouldn’t live to see his next Christmas, and they set about helping him make it that long. In the song, the family and really the whole community celebrates early so that the boy can enjoy Christmas before he dies.

From what I understand, the music video is being used as a means to help raise funds to run St. Jude’s Research Hospital for an entire day in memory of the little boy who was sick. It’s sweet and honorable and admirable, and I can’t say enough good about the song’s intentions. But I feel like the heart of the song misses the point.

Why push and focus all our energy on having one last Christmas when what’s waiting on the other side of eternity is so much better?

Painted plaster rocking horse ornament, Haven, KS

Painted plaster rocking horse ornament, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Revelation 21:1-6.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”

I don’t have children. So I can’t tell you what it’s like to hold a child in my arms and know that he or she won’t live another year. I don’t know what that’s like. And on the opposite side of the coin, I’m certainly not advocating a defeatist mentality. If someone is sick and there’s something that can be done to treat it, for heaven’s sake, treat it! I’m a firm believer in using the knowledge and technology God has given us to treat illness.

But I fear that in all of our comfort and our conveniences, Christians have lost sight of what truly matters.

I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love being with my family. I love giving gifts to people. And something is different for me this Christmas that I’ve never had before, something new to experience. A baby girl. Little Baby Hoo gets to have her first Christmas this year, and I’m absolutely giddy to be able to be a part of it. And even though she’s not “mine” per se, I still get to be in her life, and with just that barest amount of empathy I can begin to grasp the utter hopelessness of a parent with a terminally ill child. I think it would tear my heart out.

But, Christians, hear me out. When did this world become so important? When did this life become so wonderful that we yearn for one more experience down here as opposed to looking forward to the life to come? I remember worrying as a child that Jesus would come back before I learned to drive. I remember being concerned that I wouldn’t get to experience all the things people get to experience as they’re growing up. And then one day I heard a message my awesome pastor gave about what Heaven is about.

It’s not just sitting around twanging on harps and singing hymns all day long. It’s bigger and better than the best existence any of us can imagine. This life is easy to hold on to because it’s all we know, and it can be hard to long for something that we’ve never seen. Sometimes that’s where I get caught because I get so deep in this life and what’s happening here that I forget I should be living for heaven. But as Christ-followers, we need to understand that we aren’t meant for this world. We’re just visiting, just passing through, and what God has prepared for us after we leave this life is so much better than what we have here.

So instead of yearning for one last Christmas, why can’t we look forward to all the Christmases in eternity that will be so much better? Unless you don’t think we’ll celebrate Christmas in heaven? I think we will. It will look different, but the reason will be the same. Christmas is still marked in heaven as the day Christ came to Earth to save us, and I see no reason why we won’t celebrate it in eternity. I want to. I always want to remember what He’s done for me.

I don’t want people to misunderstand. I have the greatest love and admiration for families who are struggling with health issues, especially this time of year. But I’m afraid that we are all just glossing over the most important aspect of Christmas, and that is to look forward to what’s coming rather than cling to the temporary lives we’re living now.

Would you be disappointed if Christ came back today? Would you be disappointed if God called you home tomorrow? What are you holding on to in this life that you would choose over eternity?

Check your focus, because your focus will determine a lot about how you live your life. If you’re living for this life, you will rely on temporary solutions and things that don’t last to get you through the challenges you’re facing today. If you’re living for eternity, it’s a lot easier to realize that the troubles we have today are merely stepping stones for our real life after this one, where Christmas lasts forever.