Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Challenge of Clean Volunteering

For many of us, dirty is not the normal state of our lives. We work indoors and push the little buttons in front of us. If we do that in the right order, it creates words on a screen. We then quickly send them off to someone else's screen where they are observed one time then deleted (or increasingly archived). Then they send images of words back to us which we then delete. If life is really good, someone sends us a video of a dramatic chipmunk.

Now, not all my friends are like this. There's a lot of guys at NLC that work with their hands every day, and I'm really proud to know guys that can actually build an entire house. But for most of us, even if we're not on a computer, we're moving things around a warehouse, or serving other people food, or selling something indoors. Now to the point!

I think this affects our view of what it means to volunteer somewhere. I mean we volunteer for the PTA, but let's face it, that isn't terribly meaningful. And we volunteer for the Scouts, but we don't have to dig very deep to know that it's really so that our own children have a great experience. For us "real" volunteering means getting dirty somewhere, serving someone poor, somewhere uncomfortable. That's how you really know your doing something selfless!

Or is it? True need doesn't come prepackaged. I see incredible value in serving the materially poor somewhere dirty and uncomfortable. And I'm sure the poor would be pretty happy about it, too. But this attitude marginalizes the service rendered in familiar and clean places. Case in point in the USA: the local church.

The local church is the hope of the world. There is no Plan B. God never said, "I will build a renewed Habitat for Humanity, and the gates of Hades shall not overcome it." He said he would build his church. Habitat rocks. But people with new houses without the hope of the gospel are living in a pimped-out earthly tent, without a heavenly one to match it. The local church is the hope of the world. And when you volunteer with the local church for the sake of the Savior who has called you to do it. That is the only time you can truly be selfless. Because it is not for you. It's for him, and his name, and his glory, and his people. So when you finish don't say, "Well I certainly feel better about myself now." Say, "I did what I was asked and isn't he worth it all?"

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