Distractions

I just read this article from Al Jazeera a minute ago.

Basically, there are some new testimonies emerging from people who escaped from the oppressive regime of North Korea a while back. They are telling horrific facts about how the North Korean regime is using disabled (mentally and physically) children as guinea pigs for testing their chemical and biological weapons.

The government says that their “best contribution to society” is to be guinea pigs… and without much choice of their own, they are ripped away from their families and thrown into gas chambers and other horrible devices.

When I read stuff like this, I really get pissed-off/discouraged.

I think of a line from a great Sara Groves song that says: “Lord I have a heavy burden of all I’ve seen and known, it often overwhealms me“.

I mean, seriously, what do you do with crap like that?

I refuse to believe that you can just ignore it because they live on the other side of the world, look different than us, sound different than us and have closed themselves off from the rest of the world.

Does that mean we can just count it as a loss?

What’s even more depressing are the crazy other things that are happening in North Korea (and numerous other countries for that matter) that we aren’t really aware of.

Does it seem a little odd that we get all worked up and freaked out about things that only affect us and are rather insignificant to the rest of the world?

Healthcare overhaul?

Whether Michael Jackson’s death was foul play or not?

Whether your church has a children’s program or not?

Don’t some of those things just start to seem a little insignificant when we consider what’s going on around the world?

Is it just me, or are those things merely distractions that keep us from seeing things that are really important?

I find myself facing so many distractions. I really do.

At the end of the week, if I’m not careful, I will find myself consumed with: cooking a good meal and savoring it with my wife and a nice glass of wine; editing a photograph all night until I’m happy with it; reading a book about how church should/could/would/must be and letting it end there; imagining how we can make our worship/creative ministry better and cooler and more effective at our church.

If I’m not careful, I will wake up the next Monday and start all over again.

I will have taken all these good things and have made them into ultimate things. The only things that I do.

I strongly believe that life is a balance.

I believe there must be a place in my life for savoring good food and drink (especially with other people in community).

I feel alive when I have the chance to focus on photography and make images that will inspire.

I am all for revisiting how we do church and making sure it is in line with what Christ intended.

And I feel that the church should be a place where creativity happens, and am passionate about seeing us get there as a Body of believers.

However, if at the end of our lives we look back and say that we enjoyed good things with good people, were able to create and foster environments of creativity and in the end make a church that looks super-cool in our culture… yet the world is still full of horrible injustices and we didn’t even pause to pray that the God of justice would come and make things right.

Restore things to how they should be.

Then, have any of the other things even been worth it?

Don’t get me wrong… I am realizing the truth that humans (no matter how hard we try) will never be able to cure the injustices in the world. To set out on a mission to do that would be highly prideful and self-righteous.

I’m not talking about forsaking all things to make the world a perfect place. That’s not going to happen.

I’m talking about being aware of the realities that are occurring in the world that God has placed us in and then realizing that we have the ONLY hope for this world living inside us (if we are reginerate follower of Christ… not just humans with happy hearts).

Are we being good stewards of that hope?

Do our hearts break for the things that break God’s heart?

Do we even see the things that break God’s heart, or are we too distracted by our attempts to make sure we’re doing everything right?

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One thought on “Distractions

  1. Thanks for sharing, Ryan. If you haven’t read N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope, I highly recommend it. He has really helped me broaden my understanding of why and how we labor for justice in the world. It’s not about us curing all injustice – not about “making poverty history” or whatever. It’s about us getting in the game, working alongside God in his mission in the world. We won’t finish the mission, but he will, and he’s invited us to participate – even be the means of the mission – along the way. And that invitation isn’t secondary to our identity in Jesus; it is part and parcel to what it means to be saved and redeemed. Salvation and redemption have redefined and recreated us, so now we become agents of those forces in the world as God continues saving and redeeming in every conceivable way.

    Just my two cents. Read the book. It’s a wonderfully hopeful theology of mission.

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