God, break my heart!

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From my privileged place, in my comfortable warm home where the water is clean and plentiful, the food rich and nourishing, in my social position which enjoys an abundance of friends and family- it quite easy to close my eyes to suffering. The plight of that widow in Uganda who is trying to raise five little children on a couple of dollars a day in a country where abuse, physical and sexual, is more common than not, can disturb me if I let a picture of her hard life stay in my mind. It’s hard to think about those refugees of Syria, people who are surviving in dirty, crowded camps with no future prospect of return to their homes.

A lot closer to home there are elderly people without family, who are so lonely, so afraid of the days ahead. Their sad faces make me troubled! The list of suffering lengthens when you take in families struggling with an addict, those who are trying to recover from great loss, those who are desperate in a terrible relationship with no way out …

I admit that I am tempted to ease the concern with superficial prayer for those in need – Lord, bless the hurting.  Amen – as if that alone is the answer. But, the words that I read in my Genesis meditation this morning are like a slap in the face. Cain, when asked by the Lord where his brother was, the very brother he had killed in jealousy, callously dismisses his responsibility.  “Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9, NIV)

God is asking you- yes, He’s asking me – “Where is your brother?”

We are fools to think that we can avoid feeling the hurt of the suffering, that we can live in our indulgence, and lay claim to a deep, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Lord of compassion.  James writes pointedly – “Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?” (James 2:14-17, The Message)

It’s time we prayed, “Lord break my heart!” instead of our constant prayers for comfort and more blessings. I am not advocating misery for misery’s sake. I am pleading for us to become “Jesus with skin on” in this world;  people who are willing to serve the lost, the least, who are willing to lose sleep, to set aside our pleasures, to do the work of the Kingdom.  We cannot save the world but we can save those to whom the Spirit sends us.  We can feed an orphan. We can regularly visit our elderly neighbor. We can love our friend whose life is mess of dysfunction; listening, hoping, praying without superiority or judgment.

Because, we are our brother’s keeper!

“Lord, break my heart.” It is a dangerous, costly prayer.  When He answers, your life will change. You will be compelled to pursue Him, to love beyond words, to sacrifice. You will cry, your heart will ache, sleep may avoid you in the small hours of the morning.  Those who love like Jesus will dig deeper, pray longer, go farther, and reach higher. A broken heart will the mess of sin close, the stench of spiritual death into your life. The bloody wounds of those left for dead on life’s road will stain your hands with blood as you carry them to Him.

Not many of you are still reading, but if you are, I am praying for you, right now;  not for guilt, not for frustrated, momentary emotion, but for the beginning of a vision of what God, the Spirit, can do with your life when you offer it without any reservation to Him.

Jesus had an encounter with a man wondering about his social responsibility.  He wanted to know what God expected. Jesus asked him what the Scriptures taught him. ”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:27-29, NIV)  It was another way of saying, “Am I my brothers’ keeper?”

Jesus told him about a man who needed someone to care who had been beaten up and abandoned to die on the road. Two religious people saw that bloody man and walked on, taken up with their own lives. One, a despised Samaritan, cared, beyond words! “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:34, NIV)

The word from the Word comes from the end of that story. “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same. (Luke 10:36-37, NLT)

_______

Hosanna (compassion begins with a renewed calling)

I see the King of glory
Coming on the clouds with fire
The whole earth shakes
The whole earth shakes yeah 

I see His love and mercy
Washing over all our sin
The people sing
The people sing

 Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest
Hosanna hosanna
Hosanna in the highest

 I see a generation
Rising up to take their place
With selfless faith
With selfless faith

 I see a near revival
Stirring as we pray and seek
We’re on our knees
We’re on our knees

 Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom’s cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Brooke Ligertwood © 2006 Hillsong Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) CCLI License # 810055

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