Thursday, January 27, 2005

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Years ago, when I was a cop in a small Oklahoma town I worked a terrible accident. A young girl lost control and rolled her car at a high rate of speed. The top was crushed in, killing her instantly. The paramedics had to literally scoop her body into a body bag. One of them lost his breakfast, lunch and supper over it -- while it just didn't seem to affect me that much. Difference was, he had a daughter of his own about the same age. I only had a baby son. I just didn't relate.

Today, I can get choked up over a news story involving a hurt child. I would even have feelings for a twenty-one year old who robs a bank and is gunned down in the street -- because I can imagine it being my son. I guess it's a little like what they say about learning. To learn something new, you have to relate it to something you already know.

I've always liked that old Joe South song (bet most people have never heard of him) -- Walk a Mile in My Shoes.

If I could be you and you could be me for just one hour
If we could find a way to get inside each other's mind
If you could see me through your eyes instead of your ego
I believe you'd be surprised to see that you'd been blind.

Now your whole world you see around you is just a reflection
And the law of common says you reap just what you sow
So unless you've lived a life of total perfection
You'd better be careful of every stone that you throw.

And yet we spend the day throwing stones at one another
'Cause I don't think or wear my hair the same way you do
Well I may be common people but I'm your brother
And when you strike out and try to hurt me its a-hurtin' you.

There are people on reservations and out in the ghettos
And brother there but for the grace of God go you and I
If I only had the wings of a little angel
Don't you know I'd fly to the top of the mountain, and then I'd cry.

Walk a mile in my shoes, walk a mile in my shoes
And before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


We work our poor fingers to the bone (some, like my Dad did that literally). We trudge to work with aching backs and sore feet just to make ends meet. Then, we have a big chunk of our hard-earned money as forceably stripped away from us as if it were done by a mugger in a dark alley. Is this right?


It is not in our animal nature to voluntarily give up 1% of our income for others, let alone 10%-25% or more. The amount I would voluntarily give up would not be enough to feed even one person for 365 days. And old man Jones (everyone's neighbor to the west)? That SOB wouldn't give the fleas off his dog to feed the hungry without a gun to his head.

Altruism, in any amount close to providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare of ourselves and our neighbors, just ain't possible for the human animal -- even the most religious ones.

The problem I have is not taxation. I recognize it as a necessary pain due to my selfish nature. The problem I have is that my taxes are controlled by those who have the power to use my money to fulfill their own selfish animal desires, e.g. the Presidential inauguration. Therefore, my hard-earned money fails to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and heal the sick -- the things I am willing to be "robbed" for.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Intimacy with God

Studying the Bible is fundamental, but many stop there. Knowing God's will is not enough. The Devil knows God's will. God expects us to do His will.

It is God's will for us us to love others -- the kind of love that requires "giving", not just emotion. We are directed towards the hungry, the thirsty, the ill, the naked and the lonely -- and not just with prayer. We are directed to provide real food, real drink and real clothing. This requires us to make real sacrifices -- physical, emotional, financial. Love without sacrifice is only (as Tina Turner sang) "a second-hand emotion".

These "others" are out there -- just visit any nursing home or homeless shelter. If we really want a true relationship with God, we will look for them. If we really want to become more intimate and connected with our Creator, we will find them -- for when we reach out and touch their faces, we touch the face of God.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More on Love

A little more about love. The more "gut-wrenching" the emotion, the more likely it is our instincts at work -- not love.

This does not make our feelings or what they lead us to do for others any less wonderful. I thank God we have such strong instincts to help our family and others. Such instincts are beautiful and good -- and in truth, our species would soon die out without them. However, "love" is the greatest when the sacrifices come from cool-headed decisions rather than "gut-wrenching" emotion.

I know just how backward, counter-intuitive and just plain ugly this sounds -- but to be effective at "loving your neighbor", this logic has to be understood. If we wait until the condition of our neighbor "gut-wrenches" our hearts, we will seldom do anything for him or her. And then, what reward can we expect from God? He told us in the Bible that even the infidels do this.

Sharing bread with a neighbor for no other reason than that he's hungry is love, regardless of any emotion we have. We call that "caring", but that is only because the world does not expect us to do it unless we DO care. God expects us to do it whether we care or not. He even expects us to do it for our enemies. If we do not understand God's definition of love, the world's definition will allow us to justify our selfish tendency to only help others when it requires little or no sacrifice on our part.

God hates sin more than anything else, yet the Bible says that, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." His love is our example. We are but clay and he is the potter -- yet he is willing to die for us. Would we be willing to sacrifice our lives for a clay pot? God was! That is why the Bible doesn't just say that "God loves" -- it says that "God IS love."

Purely unselfish love (sacrificial charity) is most likely an oxymoron for any living creature, including mankind. There will always be a motive -- which, by strict definition, renders the act unaltruistic. However, the less that our instincts drive our good deeds, the more that they will have to be credited to choice -- thereby being the greater sacrifice of our time, money, whatever.

It may seem like I make a big deal out of "love" being understood correctly. I DO! I am persuaded that there is no more important concept a person can get from the Bible. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, his answer was to "love" your God and to "love" your neighbor -- "LOVE". He taught that such agape (giving) love fulfilled all the law and prophesies that ever existed.

From the Sermon on the Mount to the parable of the Good Samaritan, during his entire ministry on earth, Christ taught us that sacrificial, agape love was a duty. Then, he gave us the ultimate definition by taking our penalties upon Himself and dying in our place while asking for the Father to forgive those who tortured and spit upon Him.

It was God dying for clay pots. It was love beyond our understanding, because we cannot imagine why one would or should die for clay pots. There is nothing to gain in doing that and everything to lose. It goes against our instincts. That kind of describes the word "sacrifice", doesn't it? But -- love requires sacrifice. Without sacrifice, love is, like Tina Turner sang, "just a second-hand emotion".