Thursday, July 13, 2017

From Heaven to Silicon Valley - my thoughts

I felt this video had a very good point in it.

It is harder to see hunger when you are very full.

It is hard to picture desperate places when at an opulent resort in Pebble Beach, even when you are only there to speak for the poor at a charity event.

It is hard to understand what a chronic illness, ongoing health problem, or disability will do to someone's ability to get things done when you are healthy. Even if you have a disability, the tendency is to think that others should be able to do as much as you do, when their illness/disability is different than yours

It is harder to understand those who have been isolated when you have always had lots of social/familial support.. and so on.

There are many ways to be 'rich' as well as to be poor.

Poor people have to watch out for the mind-bending effects of environment/circumstance too.

Conversely, just as the rich have trouble seeing need, the poor have trouble seeing why others aren't meeting all their needs.

There is a tendency to expect everyone to know how desperate you feel when you are in need, and to be angry when you think someone can fix it... and they aren't. Whether its a doctor who doesn't seem to hear you about a scary symptom or a relative / church friend who isn't sharing resources you think they could easily part with to meet your needs. That anger comes from fear that your needs won't be met, an attitude of worry that comes from not depending on God completely. I am not judging that reaction. Its not easy to trust God in every circumstance. Trusting God only grows with practicing your faith in Him, and it is never a fun day when you are being stretched that way.

Thing is, when we are feeling freaked about the poor state of our health, familial support, or wealth (circumstances) - this will also affect our willingness to see any reality that is not what we have around us or expect to see elsewhere. We to want to believe people can help us when maybe they can't. Most everybody looks richer than they are when we are feeling very poor. We don't see their needs clearly, and how their provisions stack up against their list of needs.

We aren't necessarily doing unbiased math and making a reasonable request based on it. We want what we want. We need what we need. If we aren't actually, seriously, trusting God for those wants and needs, we are going to be tempted to be angry with those we know when our needs get scary.

Believers need to be aware of this weakness to see things the way they are in our own lives - right around us - and ask the Holy Spirit for help and guidance in seeing reality clearly, whether rich or poor..

2nd point -
We are not to pressure each other into more than following Jesus with a clear conscience.

Like most missionaries I have ever encountered, Mr. Chan tends to believe that all serious followers of Christ need to serve in the same way he has done. This is in spite of the examples (even a few in the video) where a brother or sister sold all they had and donated the results, then tried to join the missionaries only for the Holy Spirit to witness that this was not the path Christ had for them. Mr. Chan is getting to where he recognizes that believers may be of more use to the poor where they are, but he is still leaning toward the idea that we should all do something like what he is doing to be pleasing to God.

I have seen a tendency from those who zealously dedicate their lives to God to think the extra, cool thing they once gave voluntarily to God (and God loves that dedication!) to later be mandatory on all other believers. In fact they will start dropping comments that suggest all serious Christians will do exactly as the zealots did. Nope! Actually this is another version of the same weak tendency to judge all others by what we know around us. If we do the Friday Jewish Sabbath instead of Sunday service, or refrain from eating meat, or carefully tithe the herbs from our garden according to the Old Testament's instructions, shouldn't everyone? The New Testament speaks to these examples directly and says quite plainly that we should not judge each other over such things.

While we should be willing to live sacrificially, God calls us to different walks. Even in his time on Earth, Jesus didn't ask everyone to sell all they had, give it to the poor, and follow him around Judea. The choice given to the Rich Young Ruler was not required of Nicodemus, who was simply asked if he would be born again. Zacharias gave half of his excess wealth to the poor and paid four times what he owed to others, and Jesus was apparently satisfied with that offer.

The point was that the Rich Young Ruler was owned by his possessions and status, where others were able to own good things and use them for God's glory and the good of those around them.

3rd point -

Sometimes God says, "No" - even to very poor people. He knows their needs, but he also knows their hearts.

Mr. Chan gives several stories of how God sent him to a place with great poverty and illness in the population but, then, after a while, God tells Mr. Chan to go to another place even though there was still great physical needs all around him. He was puzzled by this, but obeyed. I think Brother Chan knows God well enough to know that his ministry would not be blessed if he stayed when God said to leave.

This is a direct example of God suggesting that we are not always to feel obligated to fix everything we see broken in the world around us. We are not expected to give everyone we encounter everything we have until we have poured out our existence into the bottomless well of poverty that Jesus said would exist until Christ returns. We are supposed to pray about what we do and use the discernment the Holy Spirit provides.

Okay, you say, but Brother Chan was sent to a place to help all the poor people there for a season and then sent away again. Why is Brother Chan to leave when so many poor people still could have used his help in obtaining their daily needs where he was?

Its very likely that Brother Chan had already done what he had been sent to do and learned what Jesus wanted Chan to learn. He may have reached whoever God sent Chan to help. God knows whose hearts are open to being saved, and who can't be helped for more than with a physical need on a single day.

Not everyone who holds their hand out to get help will have a good attitude about what they receive. Human nature can be moved by missionary/Christian generosity when God blesses, but humans can also be cynical about what they get and willing to transfer their anger to the nearest target, which can be the person trying to help them.

The locals may decide that because Mr. Chan is from a Western country, that whatever they get off of him was owed by his country anyway. They may take whatever Chan and his ministry shared as getting gifts from gullible idiots because of their pathetic philosophy. Someone may even start a slander campaign, suggesting Chan's motives were impure. If he was killed because of such slander, he would be a Holy Martyr, but those who betrayed him would excuse it with whatever self-justification head-trip they had decided on, and say he deserved it. Human nature becomes intense when in need, and can turn septic when it listens to the demons of disdain, fear, greed, anger, etc.

I can directly witness that I personally have been very hurt and betrayed by people I tried to help. I have gotten very ugly responses from places where I sent goodwill gifts. If an effort of generosity only produces more sin in the recipient, then I am literally doing the person no lasting good. I will only persist past this point if God specifically tells me to do so.

This is where you get into the parable about pearls and swine, and how pigs may turn and try to hurt those who give the swine gifts they don't value or understand.

The idea that we MUST be trying to save everyone who needs saving misses the point that it is always God who does ALL saving, both on Earth and in Heaven, whether it is through somebody choosing to be a vessel of blessing or through direct manna-ish miracles from God our Father. Jesus doesn't need us, but He wants us to follow him and bless those around us in His name. Yes, we should keep the needy, hurting, and endangered in prayer. Yes, we should help materially when God leads us to anyone in particular. We should always care, but we aren't the saviors of this hurting world. Jesus is the Christ, and we are his simple, redeemed instruments of grace.

Technically, God didn't even need Chan to go on these missionary trips to help the people Chan has helped. God can provide for and reach anyone anywhere. God also has His angels. God just prefers to use people to witness and help each other where possible. Christ likes letting us help. Loving those around us gives us cool stuff to do. ;)

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