Tonight my sister and I went to a friend's house to watch a new documentary that he just bought through The Voice of the Martyrs. It's titled Underground Reality Vietnam, and though portions of the film were cliche concerning the American teens' reaction to the reality of persecution, the story is extremely challenging and would be great for any type of youth group. I would definitely suggest it, especially to the more sheltered Christian youth. Sheltered here meaning unaware of, unconcerned about, and generally uncomfortable with hearing about the persecuted church around the world, specifically in Vietnam.
The general story is that eight American and Australian (I definitely admit to enjoying their accents) teens are given the opportunity to visit the underground church of Vietnam, smuggling Bibles and documenting their journey along the way.
There is a song on Jars of Clay's newest album, titled Oh My God. The lyrics of this song sink into me. We really do all tear at each other, don't we? We're all really just longing for reconciliation. I really feel that persecution of the family of God is incredibly important to discover for ourselves, outside of the US. But then I look around and I see a world, our world, the "world" around me that is so caught up in entertainment and self-improvement, and I can't help but admit to how much it has molded me, how it has shaped me into the person that I am. Culture cannot be evaded; I am an American, and I am not attacking America or Americans. I'm just realizing more and more how much our environment really effects how we view the world. And I can't help but thinking that God just looks down on all of us and can't wait to go back before the Tower of Babel, before He had to split us up because of our pride. But, I know it's going to be so much better than "before" ever could have been. The new earth, oh...that's what I dream of and cannot wait to experience.
Still, I despise the pulpit sermons that drive us to find relief in this fallen world only by looking forward to a perfect Heaven. I want to believe that God is longing for us to look and see, here and now, what can we do? How can we improve the life of one or two of those around us? I dunno; I guess I just get so sandwiched between my desire for foreign missions and my heart for the incredibly lost who have grown up along side of me, never knowing Who lives inside of me...or the homeless man who I've never met because I don't even know if he exists, and if he does exist, where I could find him to offer him help.
How did Jesus choose who to heal, who to help, while He was here on earth? Ultimately, I realize that He made it possible for all of us to be rescued from our deepest need - spiritual death as a result of sin - by coming here and living a sinless life and dying in our place, for our evil hearts. But what about the tangible things? How did Jesus choose which soup kitchen to serve from, so to speak? Since Jesus was fully God and fully man, can we draw on Christ's power in us to do what He did on earth? Can we find the strength to help every person we encounter? Did Jesus help every single one?
These questions roll around my brain and I must admit, most days evade my heart. The question Where do I begin? habitually keeps my hands from action, a tactic I am certain Satan takes pride in.
How do we balance our responsibilities as Christ-followers? I'm unsure if it's just my current stage of life or otherwise, but...I'm just so driven and yet so undecided. So overwhelmed with the task, and yet I don't even know which task is mine to own. How much of life is passion and how much should simply be sacrifice? Who's definition of sacrifice should come first? Paul's? If so, I am anything but sacrificial. In giving, in living, in general. Is living like my Jesus really supposed to be this detailed, or has my "world's" culture confused the matter? And where is the "razor edge" of the Christ-follower's life in all this? The phrase "Everything in moderation" comes to mind...but zeal seems limp in response. And of course I can't escape the fact that my fear and pride are more than likely the basic reasons I don't do what I want to. Am I just over thinking all of this?
And then I look up and around me I see the depth of our depravity. And it seems so simple again. My God...why are we so afraid?
OH MY GOD
[Jars of Clay: Good Monsters]
Oh my God, look around this place
Your fingers reach around the bone
You set the break and set the tone
Flights of grace, and future falls
In present pain
All fools say, "Oh my God"
Oh my God, Why are we so afraid?
We make it worse when we don't bleed
There is no cure for our disease
Turn a phrase, and rise again
Or fake your death and only tell your closest friend
Oh my God.
Oh my God, can I complain?
You take away my firm belief and graft my soul upon your grief
Weddings, boats and alibis
All drift away, and a mother cries
Liars and fools; sons and failures
Thieves will always say
Lost and found; ailing wanderers
Healers always say
Whores and angels; men with problems
Leavers always say
Broken hearted; separated
Orphans always say
War creators; racial haters
Preachers always say
Distant fathers; fallen warriors
Givers always say
Pilgrim saints; lonely widows
Users always say
Fearful mothers; watchful doubters
Saviors always say
Sometimes I cannot forgive
And these days, mercy cuts so deep
If the world was how it should be, maybe I could get some sleep
While I lay, I dream we're better,
Scales were gone and faces lighter
When we wake, we hate our brother
We still move to hurt each other
Sometimes I can close my eyes,
And all the fear that keeps me silent falls below my heavy breathing,
What makes me so badly bent?
We all have a chance to murder
We all feel the need for wonder
We still want to be reminded that the pain is worth the thunder
Sometimes when I lose my grip, I wonder what to make of heaven
All the times I thought to reach up
All the times I had to give
Babies underneath their beds
Hospitals that cannot treat all the wounds that money causes,
All the comforts of cathedrals
All the cries of thirsty children - this is our inheritance
All the rage of watching mothers - this is our greatest offense
Oh my God
Oh my God
Oh my God