“He must increase, but I must decrease.”
When I was a kid, I struggled tremendously with the concept of being blessed. The reason for my struggle was that some of my best friends were not as well off as I was. Now, mind you, no one in my rural community was rich. In fact, there was no central air/heat, no microwave, AND no cable TV in my house. And, my Great Grandaunt, who raised me, did not own a car. But, I was blessed and my family made sure I knew it.
They also made sure I knew that I was blessed to be a blessing. So, when I saw my friends struggling, I felt guilty. I thought that somehow their struggle correlated to my blessings. In other words, my child’s mind rationalized that there were only so many blessings to go around and I need to even things out by sharing a much as I could.
While the theology of my generosity was totally incorrect, I learned a valuable lesson from sharing my new clothes that my mother sent me from Germany, sharing my lunch at school, sharing the extra dollar I had from time to time, or sharing my quietness by listening to everyone’s issues. I learned that it felt good to share with others.
Sadly, as I grew older and moved to urban environments, the sense of community that I experienced in Green Pond, SC disappeared. I no longer talked to my neighbors and people were often distrustful of the kindness of strangers.
Today, as I think about my current context and how much I keep to myself, I think about how much it impacts my ability to be generous. I also think about how much it changes the way we view each other and our relationship to one another.
This morning, as I was reading John 3:22-30, I reflected on the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus. John was clear that he was called to point to Jesus. John’s commitment to his call made me think of my neighbor. While I am called as a believer to point to Jesus, I am also called as a believer to point to my neighbor. I am called to point my blessings to my neighbor, whether it is a material blessing or the blessing of my voiced raised in a cry for justice. I am called to point the way to those who need our help.
It doesn’t matter that I don’t know my neighbor’s name. It doesn’t even matter that urban life causes us to fear and not trust the kindness of strangers. I am called to point the way to Christ and to point to Christ’s way. Christ’s way includes loving our neighbors.
Today, as you reflect, think of your neighbor and whether they can tell that your are pointing the love of Christ their way.