God doesn’t give up on us and He doesn’t give up on the world. But sometimes we live as though we believe that He has. We regard some of the big issues in the world such as poverty, hunger, prejudice, oppression, and things of that sort as though they are out of reach. We even view them sarcastically some times. We’ll say things like “it’s not like I’m gonna cure world hunger…” as if it’s obvious that nothing can be done. Many people carry this kind of pessimism with them through their whole life, they are cynical. We even get to the point where we see anyone who believes they can actually do something to change the world as ignorant or simple minded. We don’t take these issues seriously because we’ve come to believe that they are obviously out of reach. Maybe it’s not so obvious. Maybe it’s a lot closer than you think.
When we neglect to take seriously the issues that plague the world, we are essentially neglecting to take God seriously. We build up a vision of a God who’s not doing anything. He’s simply watching us live our lives and every once in a while he does some good things as long as their not too big. We see God waiting around, giving us cute little presence to help us get through this awful place, until one day He’ll come and rescue us from the world. We either believe God is not doing anything (or doesn’t want to) or He actually doesn’t care about the world. This view is not the picture that the bible gives us. We’re given a picture of a God who cares about the problems of the world and who, since the day sin entered in, Has struggled to restore things. God has not given up. He still wants to restore those places in the world which are most ignored and neglected because people have not taken them seriously. Every problem we neglect or don’t take seriously is a problem that God’s heart burns for, a problem that God is passionate about restoring.
Imagine for a minute, that you are living in Rwanda or Darfur or Uganda. Imagine the deepest poverty you can imagine. Put yourself in that place. Now imagine that there are millions of people across the sea or across the border that are living with all kinds of luxuries and believe that there is no hope for you. Imagine that there are millions who don’t even think you are worth fighting for. Imagine that there are wealthy people sarcastically joking about your situation. It might look a bit like something from a movie where the fabulously rich old man scoffs at the poor beggar. Imagine that there are millions of people who could meet your needs but don’t even care. Do you believe that God cares any more for those thousands of rich scoffers than for the poor living in the dumps? Do you believe that God has given up on you?
I don’t ask that you give up all you have and go be a missionary. But you must ask yourself what you are doing. I must ask myself “what am I doing?” Do I take seriously the things which God takes seriously? I’m not sure I know what it truly means to take these things seriously. I am probably a hypocrite. I probably represent all the things against which I am speaking. But I am wrestling. I am struggling to find the answer, the solution. What can I do? What am I willing to give up, to sacrifice to take God seriously?
And again it comes back to theology. If you believe that God has given up than of course it’s ok to be cynical. But if you believe in an immanent God who suffers our pain an is working to heal the world then how can you scoff. It comes down to your image of God. Does your faith allow you to sit the sidelines? Does your God care? Does your God suffer? Does your Jesus live in the suburbs or in the dumps?