Why do guilt trips always seem to get a bad rap? We have all had them, and most of the time we try to brush them off, but maybe there is some healthy validity to the guilt we sometimes experience? I mean if we have guilt over something, should we not weigh the legitimacy of said guilt, instead of simply just writing the emotion off? Yes people do take advantage of guilt in other people, and we even use guilt on ourselves as a sort of reversed pride, but maybe at times we need to feel guilty, and maybe we need to feel guilty, because we are guilty.
To the End’s of the Earth
Presently my college is hosting an event known as Christian Ministry Seminars. In few words, this event is a fair highlighting several ministries and opportunities within those ministries. This fair is an interesting break from classes and to add to the excitement of it all, New Tribes Mission was among one of the ministries present. I love the work they do, and I am convinced no one does what they do better. Naturally, I decided that I would visit New Tribe’s ministry presentation this afternoon. As part of the presentation we watched a video overview of an American couple doing work in a tribe. As we watched the video tears came down my face (yes I do have emotions as much as I try to deny it) over just how much we take for granted, and not just as first world western people, but as Christians. The New Tribes web site, says this about the number of unreached people still in the world; “Of the world’s 6,500 people groups, 2,500 are still unreached. New Tribes Mission helps local churches train, coordinate and send missionaries to these tribes.” These tribes are not your next door neighbors who have access to Christianity in every medium thinkable, but people who have never heard the Gospel or any material of or related to the Word of God, in any form, EVER. Needless to say, I found myself having a guilt trip.
Taken for Granted
Christians take a lot for granted. I take a lot for granted. Not only do we have the Word of God in our own language, but we have a plethora of Christian theologians, philosophers, scholars, thinkers, and people who straight up live the Christian life to show us its legitimacy. The Word of God has been explained to take apart our worldviews, and generally in most western places, Christianity has, at the very least, an accessible presence for anyone curious about it, within a radius of a few miles. How often do we take advantage of the resources we have been given to study the Word of God? Why do we whine and complain more about our team losing the Super Bowl, than we do joyously sharing the truths of His Word? WHY CAN WE NOT SEE THIS REALITY! There are twenty five hundred groups of people in the world, who have no freaking clue about who Jesus is, and we complain because we cannot buy the new I-phone! GAIN SOME GOSH DARN PERSPECTIVE! These people live in dark, dreadful places where truth is as about as recognized in their worldview, as what they as people are recognized by the world; meaning hardly at all. Imagine living in a place, without the Word of God, without any concepts of Christianity, of hope, having nothing but the demonic religions and the short life you have before you. Knowing what we know, I think any of us in that position would hope like hell missionaries are coming, yet the reality is that in many places they are not.
Guilty as Charged
Maybe you are thinking “don’t give me a guilt trip”, and to that I say, as I said in the beginning of this post, I think sometimes we need to feel guilty. We have been given every chance and opportunity by the Lord, to live in Him, to serve Him, yet all we do is squander our lives away. The things that matter are exchanged for the things that don’t. I know there are plenty of moments throughout the day where I waste my time. What about our resources, our money? When I see statistics on websites like thetravelingteam.org that says only 1% of all money given to missions goes toward unreached people groups, something deep inside me cannot help feeling disturbed and guilty. C.S. Lewis wrote this excellent bit on charity…
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”
― C.S. Lewis
While I do think Christians should be responsible and mindful to how they give, I also believe the quote above can apply to both time and resources. Do we give from ourselves until we are inconvenienced or do we serve and give based on what is convenient? Is our standard for service and giving based on what we want or what God wants? I know so many people who would be amazing on the mission field or full time ministry, but instead have gotten too caught up in worldly ideologies and pursuing American Dreams, to want to serve on Gods terms, and instead serve on theirs. We have all the riches of eternity, so why do we waste so much time on the crap of the world, instead of helping others find the eternal richness that comes with a position in Christ?! We should feel guilty about this, not just guilty but ashamed. We should be able to examine our lives and in a healthy way, allow our guilt to speak to us. People are dying and going to Hell, you know that place of eternal separation from God, so many are trying to explain away these days, it exists, and they are going there. Are you okay with that, are we okay with that? It seems as if we’re okay with this fact, because so many of us live as if we are unfazed by this reality. At the end of our lives will we be able to look back and say “I fought the fight until my last breath, and did everything I could in service to the Lord to reach people” or will our achievements amount to nothing more than bank numbers and offspring?
Guilt is Not the Place to Stay
Okay, awesome, we feel guilty, what do we do now? WE DO SOMETHING! The amazing thing about being in Christ is that no guilt is too strong or awful to negate His overruling power through our position in Him! For some of us that may start small, maybe outreach to co-workers, or encouragement to believing friends in ministry or missions; for others this may mean going to the mission field, to these lands and tribes of unreached people, and bring them the truth God has brought to us. Even closer to home, do we use our time and resources for the community around us? It is not my place to say, what you are not and should be doing, all of that is between yourself and God. We know ourselves better than anyone else, so is our life based on the temporal, “oh this guy or girl makes me feel good”, “I need a new I-pod”, “I hate mornings,” or is your life based on something more? You may have been given time, abilities and resources, but that does not mean you have been given the right to do whatever you want with them. News flash, they are not ours! We know that, we do not always act like we know that, but we do. As the missionary I heard speak today said, “knowledge is dangerous because once you learn something, you cannot unlearn it, and if you do not live by what you know, you will be held accountable for it.” What have you taken for granted and what guilt is in your life that the Lord may be using to tell you something? God knows what we need, better than what we think we want, so listen to the Spirit, and do not take for granted all that He has given.
(Calvin and Hobbes, written and illustrated by Bill Watterson, all rights belong to him)