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The Best of US... and the Worst

Posted by Tyson Lemke on

Sitting over breakfast at our hotel in Bar Harbor, Maine, my wife and I enjoyed the views of the Atlantic Ocean dotted with boats.  The week had been just about perfect in every possible way.  We had eaten great food, enjoyed fantastic weather without bugs and had been able to hike some of the most spectacular shoreline imaginable.  I commented to Charity how in some ways our national parks are the best of us … the US.  The parks are filled with evidence of God’s creation and bounty and filled with people from all over the world exploring this beautiful land.  It is there for all the world to see.

Then … between bites, I heard it. 

“More shootings.”   My ears perked up as an older gentleman at a table near us, sighed and began relaying to a friend what had happened in Ohio and Texas.  He shook his head as he read a couple sentences from the newspaper he was holding.  That morning, filled with such promise, seemed to come crashing down in an instant. There it was.  The worst of us … the US.  Violence, hatred, racism on display for all the world to see. 

We live in a place and time where towering beauty and devastating evil are so evident that it can give one a sense of whiplash.  Is your neck sore?  Or have you become numb?  

I have been wrestling with how to respond to this.  Fear is contagious, but could faith also be contagious?  How are we to respond to the barrage of news and tragedy?  At times, I just want to bury my head, but what is the calling of the Jesus follower and the church in this cultural moment?  How can our faith “catch”?  While dialogue, debate, and votes are certainly part of responding to our world, what is our calling … the calling on us for the US?  

One word has come to mind repeatedly of late that I simply cannot shake.  It is perhaps one of the more contagious aspects of our faith.  It is a word that never seems to appear in our public politicians, rarely seems to appear in our personal posts and perhaps only occasionally appears in our pocket books.  The word is: generosity.

Generosity.

I was struck again in that brilliant, bountiful national park that we are children of an INCREDIBLY generous God, and we are called to be generous people in response.  I wondered if perhaps, generosity might just be the best of us for the worst of US.  Maybe generosity can “catch”?

So, let me ask you.  Are you truly generous?  Stop.  Everyone assumes the answer to that question is “yes” because everyone “feels” generous. But are you generous … truly?

#1.  Generous prayer?  Consider your prayer life.  E. M. Bounds wrote, “You can do more than pray after you pray, but you cannot do more than pray until you’ve prayed.”   Are we praying as much as we are arguing and reading and posting?

#2.  Generous speech?  Consider your speech.  Racist and Xenophobic speech have NO place in the Christian heart or mouth.  Are we contagiously thoughtful, encouraging, seasoned with grace and generosity in our speech and NEVER sprinkled with even the slightest hints of gossip, hatred or racism?

#3.  Generous listening?  Consider your listening habits.  It is very possible that we know someone who is angry and struggling with a sense of isolation and purposelessness.  It is also very possible that we know someone who has been on the receiving end of racial intimidation.  Are we readily moving toward people in our communities with open arms and ears?

#4.  Generous service?  Consider your service to the community.  God has given us different spheres of influence and burdens in our hearts for our city and our world.  As the Spirit of God moves in us, we must move.  Is God stirring you, and are you doing what He is asking? (If you need some help knowing where to start getting involved, please do not hesitate to email Pastor Adam at . GBC has a number of strategic partners with whom he would love to help you connect.)

Our faithful generosity can be contagious.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we became a church that was more dedicated to prayer than the news?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if no hint of xenophobia or racism could be found in the hearts and mouths of Christians?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if every angry young man had Christians moving toward him in love?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if people of all different ethnic backgrounds came together as true brothers and sisters?  Wouldn’t it be amazing if every neighborhood, every nonprofit and every need had more Christians responding to it than it could handle?  

Wouldn’t it be amazing if generosity marked us so powerfully that Jesus was on display for all the world to see?

That might just be the best of us.

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