When It’s Not About Others

The longer I live in this world and walk with the Lord, the stranger this world seems, and hopefully, the stranger I seem to this world. That is not a problem, that is by design – God’s design. 

This world is in constant reaction mode — responding to crisis after crisis. Politicians feel the need to respond to the latest media fed frenzy, and have press conferences and meetings in response to the issues of the day. 

There is a lot of talk of inclusiveness. From the world, it is the idea of globalization and the global community. For years we’ve heard terms like “one-world government” and “gobal partnership.”

In our churches, it takes a slightly different look or speech, but still, it is an attempt to erase, as much as possible, the boundaries that separate us so that there is less difference between us and the world we live in. 

These thoughts were somewhat prompted by listening to a recent, news-making press conference given by the newly elected president of the Philippines. I will not get into the politics of the nation, but something that seemed appalling to the media and many other “globalists” were his comments about how that if the United Nations did not like what he was doing, they (the Philippines) could just leave the U.N..   (Many of us have wished we had a president and congress in America bold enough to lead us to do that very thing.)

Here, however, seems to be the thinking of this nations’ new president, “The Filipino first.”

May I say, though I may not understand all of the politics here and would not want to advise on political matters, I do believe this man understands that he is elected to be the president of “the Philippines.”  Filipinos elected him and he is to serve the interests of the Philippines. 

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

Certainly, we want to get along with those around us. Certainly, we want to help those around us who are in need. Certainly, we want to be good neighbors and lend support where it is needed. Certainly, we want to be friendly and have and be an ally. But, those are secondary to meeting the needs of our own. 

Some may call it selfish to care for your own and not help someone else – I call it being responsible. God made me the husband of my wife. God made me the father of my children. God made me the pastor of International Baptist Church. 

None of that prohibits me from helping those outside of my family or church; in fact we are also instructed to love our neighbor. Yet, my first responsibility and responsibility above helping my neighbor, is meeting the needs of my own. My family, and then your family. My church, and then your church. 

If our faith does not bind us together so that we see ourselves as one body (family or church), then others do not see our faith as relevant.  If those who faithfully sit at our table are not being helped by those who sit at the same table – yet we help those who never show up at the table – we may think we are leading people to our faith — but the truth is, we’ve denied the faith. 

God takes care of His own. They are peculiar to Him. A people above all people – a people unto Himself. We must care for our own before we care for those who are not.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other – we can do both and wisdom dictates where we’ve done enough for our own so that we can and should begin helping or working with others. 

We are to have and give identity. Meaning, it should mean something to be added to the church.  Being an active church member does not mean the church owes you anything, but it should mean something.  Being a part of a family should mean something. People need to be part of something that is defined – distinct.  Let’s not lose our identity, otherwise, where do people go when they need something different than what they have?  When what they are doing is not working?  Let them see that we take care of our own. Let them see that our faith is real and binds us together. Let them see that our faith works, as God supplies our needs. 

We can’t help everybody, but let us start by taking care of our own. 

Goodbyes

I just did one of the most heart-wrenching things I’ve had to do in my life. I dropped my oldest child off at the airport to head off to college; not just a state away, but half-way around the world.  We won’t see her for Thanksgiving or Christmas as so many other parents will see their college-bound children. Maybe we will see her when summer comes around. Why is it so hard to say, “goodbye?”

I’m happy for our little girl who has grown up to be a good and godly young lady. Her smile and the twinkle in her eye still capture her daddy’s heart as much now as they did when she was a little baby in my arms.  

I remember well, a conversation I had with the Lord the day she was born.  I recall speaking to God about this “new love” I was feeling in my heart that I had never known. I felt a little closer to God, understanding now – the heart of a father. Again, I feel that I’ve entered deeper into His fellowship, learning what it is like to be separated from someone you love while they go to do His will. 

Things in life are not permanent. Even our offspring must spring off to begin lives apart from mom and dad, just as we did many years before. I suppose letting go of anything is hard, but some things just have more of an attachment than others. Some hurt more when they are taken from your hand. 

Goodbyes are not easy, in fact, they keep becoming more difficult. Comfort is found in that this is not a goodbye to send her off to the unknown; she is in good hands – God’s hands.  We realize that the next joy we’ve not yet experienced would evade us if we did not first go through this sorrow. 

We now look forward to, with anticipation, what God will do with her life. I suppose that God, with anticipation, looks forward to what He knows He is making of our lives. Let us not disappoint Him.