Last week, my daughter Elizabeth saw a picture of a missing girl in one of the flyers for a retail store in our area. We’ve all seen those classic “milk carton” notices asking if anyone has seen the missing child with pictures of when they were abducted and an age progressed picture. Elizabeth wanted to know why the little girl’s picture was in the flyer so I explained. She then proceeded to cut out the picture and stared at it for quite a while. Before we ate our evening meal she asked if we could pray for the little girl. Talk about a wake-up call!
We’ve all seen those pictures and probably don’t think twice about them. We come to expect them in the cursed and fallen world we live in. But what Elizabeth saw wasn’t just another picture or sign of the times. What she saw was a person, a child, who had been wrongfully taken from her family and a child who needed our prayers. Ever since that moment, I’ve been thinking about how cold and calloused most of us have become, even as Christians, to living out Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
We get so busy with our own families and lives that it’s easy to say we’re too busy to care for or pray or encourage those around us. Recently, I made a meal for a co-worker’s family whose son was in the hospital. Elizabeth asked me why I was doing it and I shared with her the practical aspects of it—the family needed quick meals to eat so they could spend time at the hospital. While that was true, I missed an opportunity to share with her that I’m doing it because these people are my “neighbors” and I am following Christ’s command to love them as myself.
My daughter loves to put boxes together for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). Every year we watch the videos on the OCC website encouraging us that these boxes make a difference in the lives of children and help to further the gospel. What a great way to live out loving our neighbor as ourselves! While I enjoy seeing how much stuff we can cram into a box, I’m also thinking that two boxes probably aren’t going to have much of an impact. Again, I’ve become calloused and “world-weary,” and it disheartens me.
I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to look at others as Elizabeth does. I believe children are a mighty force used by God to help parents get some perspective! In this case a proper biblical perspective on loving others as ourselves. Ultimately whether the things we do for others makes a difference in their lives or not is beside the point (although we hope and pray it will). The point is that we are obeying God’s Word and practically displaying its authority in our lives. I’m looking forward to the challenge of culturing this love for others in my own heart and in the heart of my daughter. I’ll keep you posted!
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!