Blowing bubbles --- the international language of fun.
As I was looking at this photo that Stephanie Andrew took while in Uganda, I started thinking about how such a simple thing can mean so much to kids in impoverished parts of Africa. Pull out the bubbles, a pack of balloons, or a ball, and before you know it, you've got a crowd of kids gathered around you laughing, playing, and ready to be your best friend.
And that made me think about how really, it is the simple things that God often uses to show His love to others through us.
We often want to make "loving your neighbor as yourself" so complicated. And sometimes it is hard and time-intensive. Rural communities need hospitals built and waterless communities need wells dug. Illiterate children need educated teachers and schools while jobless parents need programs that teach them how to set up a micro-business or give them technical skills to gain employment.
But a lot of times, God is just calling us to what we can do with what we have right now.
Think about the Good Samaritan. He passed a man beat up and in need of help. He didn't have to start a non-profit or go to seminary to reach that man. He just gave him some first aid, made sure he had a place to heal up, and left some money to cover his expenses. And over and over again in the Bible we see examples of this --- the boy who gave his fishes and loaves, the widow who provided food and shelter for a prophet, women who made clothes for those in need, and a prostitute who hid Hebrew spies.
At We Will Go here in Jackson, we often have volunteers from church groups and camps come to serve. One of the things we tell them is that we do very practical things to "love our neighbors as we love ourselves". If we were hungry, we'd want someone to share their food with us so we share our food. If we were sick and without a car to get to the doctor, we'd want someone to give us a ride. And if we were broken hearted and needed a good cry, we'd want someone who would listen and pray with us.
See? When we give that bag of food or give a lift or offer a shoulder to cry on, we're fulfilling God's commandment.
He told us that the greatest rule to obey is to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor as much as we love our self. It is that simple.
We don't give a bag of food just to be giving a bag of food so we can say "we gave X amount of canned goods out this week",we give that bag of food because God first loved us and made sure that we knew it. We give that bag of food so that they will know that they are loved, so they will know they are valuable to us, and in turn valuable to God. We give that bag of food so we have the chance to get to know them and minister to them. We don't just throw the bag of food at them and get them off the porch as fast as we can. We take that opportunity to ask them how they are doing and how can we pray for them. We take that time to listen to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to direct our conversation. Maybe they know the Lord and just need to be reminded that He cares about them, that He knows their name,that they are not just some homeless person without hope. Maybe they need us to pray for them to find work or pray for their mama who has cancer. Or maybe we find out that they aren't walking with the Lord but they are ready to come home spiritually and the person giving that bag of food has the honor of leading them into the Kingdom. Or maybe we give them that bag of food and they curse us and reject all attempts to build a relationship, but we bless them anyway and pray for them, and in returning good for evil, we give them a picture of the Father who loves them despite all their sin and dirt.
That's an every day part of life and ministry at We Will Go, but we want those who come to serve for an afternoon or a weekend to see that this kind of ministry is something that God calls them to do not just in inner-city Jackson, but wherever He has them living their life. We want them to love their neighbor as much as they love themselves whether it is by asking the bag boy how they can pray for him, cutting the grass for the single mom next door, or leaving a bag of groceries on the porch of the unemployed neighbor.
Loving God and loving your neighbor really can be pretty simple.
As simple as blowing bubbles for African children living in the mud huts of Uganda.