“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”- I John 3:18
I can still see the terror in her eyes. I was behind the wheel of my car, inching through a crowded Asian market when I noticed a commotion in the distance. Through the crowd, I caught sight of a man dragging a young woman by her hair. Twice he slapped her face viciously, causing her to fall to the ground. Her eyes were laced with panic, and she screamed for help. I unbuckled my seat belt, but then realized that if I left my car, the traffic behind me would pile up. Horns would blast. Tempers would flair. I asked my wife, “Why are all these people standing around?”
But it was me who didn’t budge. By the time I decided that maybe I really should do something, the woman had been shoved into a sedan and whisked away in another direction. If only I could take that moment back! On the way home I promised myself that if ever I see someone in need, I will not hesitate to do something, regardless the cost.
Three different times Jesus was asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” How would you answer that question? Jesus surprises me. In Mark 10 he answers, “Take up your cross and follow me.” In Luke 10, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In Luke 18, “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” It is astonishing that Jesus never corrected the question, saying that eternal life has nothing to do with doing anything. No matter how much we try to tame Jesus, we can’t silence his relentless teaching that the future always connects back into the choices we are making right now.
I laughed hard when a friend of mine told of hearing his children in the back seat of the car. The older sister was jabbering nonstop. Suddenly her little brother, a preschooler screamed out, “Words! Words! Too many words!” I can relate, kid. Are you, like me, getting so tired of our Christian faith being defined by debating, in-fighting, and name calling? God forbid we bring that spirit of empty words to Indonesian children! In our Mustard Seed schools and teachers college, we are determined to forge a generation of disciples of Jesus. Please pray for us, that we never lose our calling to raise up a generation of Indonesian men and women who simply live out their faith.
In prison awaiting his execution, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote the poem Stations on the Way to Freedom: “Not what fancies the mind, but what is braved in the bold deeds of justice; not by lingering over dreams of the possible, but courageously grasping reality at hand, not through ideas soaring in flight, but only through action, is there ever freedom to be. Step out of your anguished waverings and into the storm of events plunge ahead, borne along solely by command of your God and your powerful faith. Only then will that freedom exultant reach out to welcome your spirit’s embrace.”
Friends of Mustard Seed, join with us as we advance into the storm of events Bonhoeffer wrote about. Let’s chase that “freedom exultant,” moving beyond dreams of the possible, growing a little bit less addicted to hearing our own voices and finding the courage to act.
– Paul Richardson