God is on our side. When you read that statement does it overwhelm you with great joy and a sense of peace or do you read it and say “of course He is.” I know when I have heard people say that in the past I have shrugged it off and never really meditated on it. But for a second clear your mind of all that is going on and say to yourself “God is on my side.” How amazingly blessed are we! God, the Creator of everything we see and even don’t see loves us enough to be on our side. If He wanted He could just be silent and leave us all here to die, but instead He sent His son for us to show His commitment and grace. When we read the Word we never hear of God only using the wealthy but instead people of every background. Jesus did not interact with the popular people of His day. He instead had fellowship with the poor, the wounded, the whores, and the criminals. The bible says in James 2 “My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?" If we truly strive to live a Christ-like life than why do we fail so easily on one of His basic commandments: "Love your neighbor as yourself." And why has sharing the gospel with all we come in contact with become a choice rather than a burning desire?
Before coming to Kampala I had never seen such poverty in all of my life. To walk into a slum and see piles of trash burning, children playing in dirt with no clothes on, and men drunk off homemade liquor really messes with a person's view on life. In America I had been very comfortable with my way of living, never thinking of the world around me, but this has changed. As stated in my last blog I am amazed at the strength and faith of the believers in Kampala. And when I talk of believers I don't just mean the adults but also the teens and children. Everyone here clings to their relationship with Christ as though it is all they have and sometimes it is. This past week Ariel and I went to a high school in Namuwongo to have fellowship with the students during their lunch hour. When we arrived we had no idea what to expect except the fact that we would be working with teens. I wondered if the students would to want to talk to us let alone even show up, but that was me doubting as always and God showed me once again how crazy it is to doubt Him. As the program started more and more students came in till the room was filled with about 30 in all. The students led an amazing praise and worship that really helped me and everyone else focus on what we were about to learn. Here in Uganda when people say "praise and worship" it is not one thing but two separate focuses. A time to praise God for everything and a time to worship Him for who He is and that is exactly what we did for the first 20 minutes of our time there. It was then time for the message, which I was informed on the spot would come from me. As soon as I heard that my mind went raising with thoughts such as "I am not prepared", "Who am I to teach?", and "Where can I even teach from?". It was within that instant God gave me the scripture, which I had been reading in my quiet time the previous night. James 1:19-27, to be doers of the Word and not just listeners. This was a message that not only the students needed to hear but what all of us as the body of Christ need to hear.
How many of us do that? How many of us listen to the Word and then act on what God has said? Verses 22-27 state "But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
Being religious means nothing to God. When we are saved God writes our new name only on those places in our lives where He has erased our pride, self-sufficiency, and self-interest. Some of us have our new name written only in certain spots. A true disciple is one who has his new name written all over him-self-interest, pride, and self-sufficiency have all been erased. One of the greatest barriers in coming to Jesus is our own wants and desires. It is when we gives ourselves over to Him fully that He will use us and our walks will bear fruit.
The other day a friend of mine asked me what I thought about the people who never hear the gospel and if God would send them to hell. This thought has run through my mind tons of times and often I have come up with no answer, until recently after studying the Word and reading "Radical" by David Platt. Platt states that all people have knowledge of God, all people reject God, all people are guilty before God, all people are condemned for rejecting God, God has made a way of salvation for the lost, people cannot come to God apart from faith in Christ, and finally that Christ commands the church to make the gospel known to all peoples. The last point struck me the most and is where God showed me it is the body of Christ that is allowing these unreached people groups to go to hell. If we truly abandoned everything to Jesus, and came when He says, "Come," then He would continue to say, "Come," through us. We would be able to go in to the world reproducing the echo of Christ's "Come." That is the result in every soul who has abandoned everything and comes to Jesus. But as the body of Christ we are so comfortable in our own walks that we never think of telling others.
How many have died and gone to hell because of my idleness? I know that I can save no one but it is my call as a Christian to tell others of Christ and show His love. That is all of our calls as followers of Christ. Whether it be in your hometown or across the world, you should be sharing Christ with someone. As we grow in our relationship with God we begin to see people as He sees them, as sinners lost and going to hell. These thoughts never became concrete till I arrived here. The Christians I have built relationships with truly see their neighbors as Christ sees them. James 2:5 states, "Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?." That scripture has rang true to me throughout my time in Kampala and I pray it never stops.
I know this blog was started with the intention of allowing friends and family to see what I am doing here in Uganda throughout the summer, but every time I blog I can't help but to write what God is showing me. I promise to write an entry full of details and funny stories soon. In the meantime you can check out Ariel's blog for more of our day to day routine and her thoughts at: http://walkingwithhim1015.blogspot.com. I pray what I have shared allows those of you who read this blog to think about your walk and adjust the areas that need work. Until I write again may God bless each and everyone one of you and keep fighting the good fight!