“If a community had to choose between building a shelter for the poor and a synagogue, they were required to build a shelter for the poor.”* Such was apparently the guidelines for semi-autonomous Jewish communities in the 12th century.
When I read this line, I couldn’t wonder how different the world would look if Christians had traveled the world with a similar concept in mind over the course of the last 550 years. What if instead of conquering indigenous peoples in the name of Christ and decimating their livelihoods and cultures, we would have approached the world with humility.
What if before building our own frivolous cathedrals and unnecessary church buildings, we would have been content to gather in homes and warehouses until the needs of those less advantaged than us were met first? What if this was the way we planted churches today?
There is nothing I can do to change history, but perhaps there is something I can do in order to properly reflect on how I interact with the world from this point forward. Maybe “me first”, “mine first” and “ours first” will never lead to a better world. Maybe that is not what the kingdom of heaven is about.
“In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Luke 14:33-35
Today as you go, may you remember that following Jesus is about putting His words into action. It isn’t about finding deep and mysterious, unobvious truths in Scripture. For did not He Himself contend that the way is simple, pure and obvious?
“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.'” Luke 10:21
* Thistlethwaite, Susan Brooks. Interfaith Just Peacemaking : Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on the New Paradigm of Peace and War. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.