In my early years on this earth, I had the good fortune to travel to different cities in the United States, and the world, with groups of people who were determined that what they had to offer was what those cities needed. Primarily, the focus was religion. Specifically, a Southern Baptist portrait of Jesus. Even early on in life, there was something in me that would not allow me to be “spoon fed” any information about God. It was never that I opposed the notion of the Divine, but always that the notion was preached with an “us and them” mentality. Always with the “us” being superior.
There were several cities and several projects, but the Zambian trip was to be my last official mission trip with any organization. The leaders of these trips were often frustrated with my tendency to wander off with locals as they would show me their homes or work places. There was always a good chance I would be in a nearby field playing games with children or down the road with those working close to a project site, rather than being one of the forty students assigned the task of painting a small room. In Zambia I realized, I had flown thousands of miles away with the intent of teaching Zambians what they already knew. A gospel of a Christ that had been there before me for centuries.
My perspective on my home town changed. Though I had seen the view from the top of the largest water fall in the world, there were sites as beautiful found on my return home. The faces I saw in other towns and countries were on the streets of the city where I was raised. After most of these trips, I found the only thing that had changed for the better or worse, was me. There is room in this world and in the Creator for those who help at home and for those who help abroad, but for me, it was obvious that most of my trips were simply working vacations and that it was up to me to learn from them more than I taught on them.
I am not the Great White Hope. And for so many reasons, neither is Jesus. There will need to be many things other than religion offered to other cities and countries if the world will grow together. But that involves relinquishing of power and control, and to be quite honest, I do not see governments or religions doing any of that well in the near future. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. It saddens me, but I believe the world has taught men to fish so that the world might have an over abundance of fish. As for Jesus not being the Great White Hope, he is not white, but he is the hope. He may be the answer, but we need to start seriously considering the questions.
All is not lost. My times on those trips were not wasted. No time ever is. Each day, each moment, each new truth about the Divine, even each new truth we discover about ourselves, should be like a five pound diamond we found in our backyard. We should want to share it. Have it appraised. Protect it from theft. And though it too would be passing, enjoy the feeling we get when we think of it. If we get excited enough about our chicken dinner to post it on social media for all of our friends to see, how much more should we smile at a stranger because our creator nudged us this morning and said, “Wanna go again.”?
It is this. We are worlds away from one another, not by virtue of distance or oceans, but by the way we treat and view each other. My hope has become that I will see the me in you, and you might see, the you in me. God is not going to be angry if his children get along for a time without mentioning the name of God. My time with my sister is not spent talking only of my father and how much my father has meant to us, or how much my father has done for us, or quoting the great things my father has said, or comparing the things our father has given her instead verses me. God is our father. He loves us. We love each other with that same love, regardless of the reasons why.
And a final note, the Creator never asked you to pass a test before he called you a child of God. Do not ask that of others. Peace be to you.