There is an account in the Old Testament of a time when the Syrian armies laid siege around the city of Samaria until the people of the city were about to perish of starvation. There were four lepers at the gate of Samaria who were also near death from starvation. One night they decided to go to the Syrians and plead for mercy. But God had caused the Syrians to hear the noise of a very great army that night and they had all fled in terror, leaving tents full of food and other good things.
The lepers went from tent to tent, finding food in abundance, plus silver and gold and clothing. Some of this they carried away and hid, then went back for more. At this point one said to the others, “We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace.”
Our society has become debased and demoralized. We can say that governments have failed us. We can say that social service agencies have failed us. We can say that the churches have failed us. There might be a little truth in all of those statements, but blaming these big organisations is not going to help us.
Let’s look in the mirror. What have I done to lift the burden someone else is carrying? Have I had time to listen to someone who was lonely and broken-hearted? Have I been willing to interrupt my routine to lend a hand to someone else? Do I have time for lonely old people, the sick, the foolish, the weak?
Technology gives us the illusion of being connected to a huge throng of people, near and far, yet we feel alienated, not really connected to anyone in a meaningful and lasting way. It feels like our society is edging ever closer to the dystopian vision of Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. But can human beings survive in such a state of alienation? The evidence in the news appears to be saying no.
Our daily newspaper carries a story today of a woman who says the church saved her life. She has gone from a life of prostitution and drugs, with her daughters in foster care, to being gainfully employed, providing a home for her daughters and doing her part to give back to others. Someone reached out and gave her the hope that God was real and that He cared for her. Someone helped her heal from her hurts, unlearn all the bad habits and attitudes and learn better ones.
All we who have experienced the healing that God gives have the potential to share it with others. Are we sitting back and rejoicing in our own salvation and helping fund mission programs so someone else can help those who are hurting? Do we well?
We will find greater fulfilment and happiness in serving others, rather thant in being served. Why don’t we start today, with those we can reach out and touch? In our own homes, first of all.