Imagine a dinner table, which is filled with a feast. There’s a bowl of green salad, steaming, hot rolls with rivers of butter dripping off them, warm baked potatoes stuffed with cheese and sour cream, fresh fruit saturated in juice, and steak—juicy steak just off the grill, wrapped in bacon. These delectable aromas fill your nostrils. Drool is dripping from your mouth, and your stomach growls.
You and your family sit and dig into this amazing meal. In no time at all, rolls are flying, knives are stabbing, and juices are spraying. Everything tastes so good, and you haven’t even seen dessert yet. But sadly, your eyes were too big for your stomach. You feel stuffed, even though there’s still food left on your plate.
“You better eat that, there’s kids in Africa,” jokes your brother.
We joke like this all the time—but it’s not a joke. There are kids, there are people, who are starving, and not just in Africa, but in China, Mexico, Ukraine, even in your neighborhood. There are people who are suffering everywhere.
We live in a broken world. Because of sin, there are people are who plagued by starvation, disease, dehydration, loneliness. There are people who are hurting all around us, who need help. Love. Someone to listen to them, to pray for them.
So what? Why should we care?
Because we can help them. We can help mend this broken world. No, we can’t make it brand new—there will always be suffering until God refines it, but we can help it to freshen up, and keep the apple from rotting.
One of my favorite Bible passages, and yet one of the hardest ones for me to read, is Matthew 25:31-46:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Let us be a lantern to this dark world.
I challenge you to make a difference. Pick one person who you know—a coworker who is having a bad day, the kid who sits by himself in the lunchroom, or the homeless man on the corner of the Wal Mart parking lot—anyone, and take just a minute of your day to talk to them. That may not sound like a lot, but you would be surprised how much of a difference it could make to them. Just take the time to listen to their story, then, see what you can do to help them.
But what if you don’t know anyone? Then spend just one day helping an organization in your town, such as the local homeless shelter or a nursing home. Just one day. Or become part of an organization, one who you feel passionate for, such as the Community Blood Center, or Relay for Life, or an association that digs wells in Africa. I challenge you, to pick one person, or one way, one way, in which you can help someone—and do it. Don’t let anything hold you back, don’t let second thoughts fill your head—just do it. Set aside a time to make a difference.
If each of us will take the time to do this, imagine how much better this world could be?