Friday, December 22, 2023

Going Where the Needs Are

Ever read the book Looking Out for Number One? Neither did I. I don't need any help in looking out for myself. I'm already an expert at that. No, God doesn't want us to love ourselves any less. He just wants us to love others the same way. 

When I was at Biola in the early 1970s, all students were required to do a "Christian Service Assignment" once a month during the semester. I chose to play pickup basketball at a place called Watts in South Central Los Angeles. You haven't seen anything until you've seen Watts. Yes, that's where the riots took place. 

I loved being with these guys. I felt a certain kinship with these kids because I too had grown up in a poor household and I too had played ball almost every day at the public park near my home. We'd play two periods of basketball between which I gave a short Bible study. I think it worked out so well because I was only a few years older than these players. What's so surprising is that rarely if ever do I hear of a Christian college requiring anything like a Christian Service Assignment nowadays. Our purpose as believers should be to penetrate the non-Christian community with the message of God's love and saving power. We shouldn't ever stand apart from the world and piously exclaim, "Man, things are such a mess in L.A. these days. The crime rate is off the charts. When are they going to clean up their act?" What, may I ask, is so surprising about that? That's just the way the world is. If we're truly the salt of the earth, we need to be about God's business and get out of the salt shaker. 

Because we are Christians, our success ought to be gauged by changed lives -- our own and others'. Period. No lives will ever change if we're unwilling to go where the needs are.