Two Different Worlds

     A strange juxtaposition occurred yesterday on my Facebook feed. Side by side posts revealed:

  • A friend from our Illinois time is currently in Haiti.
  • A young relative is currently in her senior year of high school.
  • He is helping people rebuild their lives after devastating loss.
  • She is preparing to embark on the grand adventure of life.
  • He is excited by the prospect of receiving tents and medical supplies today.
  • She is excited by the prospect of a school convocation so she misses second period class.

     First let me note that no criticism of the young lady is implied. No one begrudges high school seniors that special experience of senior year (as long as it’s kept ethical) and she is truly a wonderful young woman.

     But I was struck by how often we find illustrated the two different worlds that exist. I don’t mean the difference between

  • tragedy and safety,
  • poverty and wealth, or
  • sickness and health.
  • And I certainly don’t mean religious verses non-religious.

I mean the choice of self-fulfillment as opposed to self-sacrifice.

     When should we do things just for ourselves and when should we put ourselves aside for the purpose of serving someone else? We know that these things happen everyday in the simplest of acts. I eat my own breakfast, but I also fix breakfast for family members. During the day, I work hard at one thing because I desire the benefit but I also work hard at some things just so others will benefit, receiving no benefit for myself.

     Sometimes the choice is in some greater area. At those times I must decide if I am willing to leave my comfort zone in order to help another. It doesn’t require leaving the country or going to a disaster stricken area, though we are very glad for those who can. Often it’s as simple as speaking to a person that we usually treat as invisible. It might be reaching out to someone that who appears to need just a little more support than they now have. Sometimes it’s taking the initiative toward an under-served need that isn’t your responsibility, but you just might be the one who makes a great difference.

     Of course, these two worlds do occasionally touch. We can be taking a class or seminar in order to improve our own resume or qualify for a pay raise. But after taking the class, we also are better able to serve our employer or clients. So our self-fulfillment was in preparation for self-sacrifice. The two worlds also touch when we realize that after a season of sacrifice we feel a great sense of self-fulfillment, a sense that we have been doing just what we truly desired all along: making our own life have meaning in this world. Jesus presented this truth in many ways in his life and teaching. I hope you enjoy the benefits of it.

 

Gary Greene

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