What do you do when nobody’s looking? Would you make a sacrifice even if nobody else would know about it? Do you need gratification, praise, and reinforcement that what you’re doing is selfless and worthy? Sorry to be brash, but it’s almost 1AM, and as I lay in my bed, trying to fall asleep, I’m feeling what may possibly be the biggest prompt from God I have ever been so fortunate to receive. The thoughts cycloning in my head are being produced from many different parts of my life that I’ve been paying major attention to. I feel as though I am always wondering what other people are wondering. I’ve been known to ask people the question, “what are you thinking about right now?” Yeah, sometimes it comes across as comedic, but I legitimately want to know! That part of my heart wonders all sorts of quandaries- what makes people tick? What’s their motivation for…anything!?
The winding path that I have walked toward my faith and love for Christ has exposed many ideas to me. One such idea is that God wants us to do something. We all have some sort of purpose. However, inside those purposes that we label as jobs, students, or parents, etc. … we have a duty that stands outside those roles. Love God, love our family, of course, that’s a given, and Love our selves. Right, we get it. But what’s missing? Love our neighbor. So how are you doing? I fear that the mentality surrounding loving our neighbors is becoming a fad… sounds like a good thing, right? No. If there’s one thing about fads that we all know, it’s that they die.
As always, I’m guilty. I have more often than not, fallen for the heartwarming videos that are shared and re-shared online showing people giving their shirts, shoes, and money away. I think those videos are great. They are examples of what Christ was teaching his disciples while he breathed the love of God into their hearts. With that said, (and if you know me, you know I love social media and it’s awesome power) I have become slightly skeptical (aforementioned). What are we doing when the cameras aren’t rolling? What if there’s no tear-jerking video? What if there’s no pixelated proof that you’re doing good things? Did it happen? Will it happen if you can’t proclaim that it happened? I apologize, but I really want to dig into this… God has truly put this subject on my heart tonight. Are you hoarding your relationship with God? Perhaps all this time you thought the puzzle was finding a way to close the distance between your heart and God’s. What if I told you that closing the gap between someone else’s heart and God’s has a by-product that you may be interested in? I hope you’re catching on.
A few months ago, I purchased a shirt that I thought looked cool. The name of the clothing company is Barnabas, the name of a gentleman from the Bible. I had no prior knowledge of the biblical character until the shirt arrived a few days after I ordered it. I tossed it on my bed, and upon coming back into my room at a later time, saw a good deal of writing on the inside of the tag. I was immediately intrigued. Inside it read: Jeremiah 29: 12-13, below that was a line that said “BECAUSE OF YOU…a grandmother in Africa caring for her orphaned grandchildren will receive milk for a week.” I had no idea. I immediately needed to know what this Barnabas company was all about. (no this is not a plug for their clothing and I am not receiving any money for writing this)
Barnabas is a little known character in the bible that tagged along with Paul a good bit… Paul wrote fourteen books, over HALF of the New Testament! So, why is it that we don’t hear about Barnabas very much? I believe that we don’t hear about Barnabas because there are unglamorous jobs to be done, and that’s what he was doing. Barnabas was behind the scenes, loving people with the love of Christ. It’s no secret that I love Paul’s literature. The letters he wrote to Corinth are some of the most beautifully God-filled excerpts in the entire Bible. However, I love the action taken by Barnabas. A popular prayer involving his name reads: “Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of your faithful Servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of your Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel.” What a guy, right? Yes! Boy, was I surprised. I was on the company’s website, bought clothing, and had no idea I was somehow helping out. This whole Barnabas thing was beginning to make sense to me. There’s no evidence out the outside of the shirt that there was something bigger at play.
Social media, cameras, and the shred of hope that something goes “viral” are the poorest reason to pour your self out for those who need it most. If you need a pat on the back, go get it from the person you’re helping, not the third party. Go be Barnabas for a day… you’ll be addicted. I make mention of this subject because I have again been witness to people trying to be closer to God. I can only suggest for those of you that are in that situation to reassess what you’re doing. Maybe your complacency is the result of inaction. If you want to be closer to God, chase Him down. That’s what he wants.
Christ received no gratification…especially the immediate type. Even his closest friends and allies were constantly questioning his ways, yet he continued. Isn’t it ironic that some of the most difficult tasks we face are how best we can serve our own wants and desires, yet some of the easiest tasks are serving others? I’ve really learned that the best way to be closer to God is to help someone else get there first. You’ll feel his presence when you do. To close, I want to take a moment to officially recognize (even though they are anonymous) the people that love, help, evangelize, and serve others without turning heads. When they see a need, they cater to it. I have been the recipient of true selflessness. These people know who they are, and I know they won’t jump out of the crowd to redeem their pride. They will quietly continue serving others with the volume of a whisper, and most likely make a difference that causes a substantial movement towards God. When your heart is closer to God’s heart, people will know, and most importantly, you will know.
Always praying for your peace,