Yeah, what does motivate us to "minister to" those people on "the other side of the tracks"? If you ask me, humans have a lot of pride. I read a quote recently that, "If Jesus were on earth you'd find him in a gay bar in San Francisco. He'd be working with people suffering from AIDS. These people are the new lepers. If you want to find out where Jesus would be hanging out it'll always be with the lepers."
If that's true then I must be a leper because He hangs out with me and I know that He hangs out with several of my friends and they still have all of their body parts intact. It seems like those who make a religion out of social causes like to put the "Jesus-stamp-of-approval" on what they are doing because it makes them seem more spiritually mature or aware. No doubt many of them care deeply, as do I, about people who are suffering. I believe wholeheartedly in caring for others, for sure, but what is our motivation when we help the "lepers" of society?
Jesus did not, in fact, "always" hang out with the lepers. He actually spent much of His time with a motley band of 12 men. He also hung out with every type of person imaginable: blue-collar stiffs, federal workers, desperate housewives, religious leaders and religious nut-balls, military men, average Joes, his family, the wealthy elite, social climbers, the handicapped, the "mentally" ill, and the terminally ill; three groups of people who were usually homeless. He was not exclusive about who He spent time with. Jesus hung out with anyone who wanted to hang out with Him. If someone indicated that they didn't want to spend their time with Him then He politely went on His way. He wasn't out to peddle himself to people. He also wasn't trying to make Himself look better by hanging out with all these people.
We forget this but we are all broken. There isn't a soul out there who does not have some level of brokenness. If Jesus is the standard and being like Him is the standard, I am here to tell you that none of us can ever reach that standard. We might as well try to fly to the moon. Even if we practice jumping all day long we will never build up enough muscle to get ourselves up there. If we climb the tallest building we are still millions of miles away. A few people get on board airplanes and claim to be pretty close but they haven't even broken the earth's atmosphere. So is my only option is to go to Kennedy and steal a space shuttle? The problem is, I would need millions of dollars to pay the highly-skilled burglers who would do the job for me and I still wouldn't have a clue how to fly the darn thing. I'm too old to be chosen for the NASA program - not that I would have ever been chosen to begin with - I don't possess the right set of skills to "get in". There is just no getting me on the moon.
Even if I do hang out with the "lepers", it ain't gonna make me any more perfect. (And, oh, how they love being referred to as "the lepers"!!!?)
The only way that I can achieve the standard is to allow God to take my broken self and adopt me into His family and then to see me forevermore as one of His own. There is no ladder to climb or set of rules to follow perfectly. There is no hiding out in some monastery like a coward, trying to avoid the evils of this world so that I can attain more perfection. Perfection is such a futile goal because it is absolutely not possible by any of the standards out there.
The amazing thing is that God sees me as if I am on the moon not as if I am still gravity-bound by earth. There is a tremendous amount of mystery in that for me; I don't comprehend it but it does give me a peace and sense of reassurance that I cannot duplicate through any of my own notions of "spiritual disciplines". No matter how many disciplines I were to practice it would not get me to the moon and that is where I wish to be when it comes to God. I am just going to trust Him on this one even though it sounds totally nuts. (See Ephesians for further insight)
I always thought moon boots were cool anyway.
And what about the Moonwalk, baby? Way cool.
Guess I am going retro.