Day to day, year to year, news remains pretty much the same:
- A war going on somewhere.
- Violence on some street in our hometown.
- People fighting for position, power, a bigger slice of the pie.
- Hunger, with pictures so appalling we have to look away.
- Those who have fallen on hard times living in poverty so cruel they have to choose food or medicine, but not both.
News that reminds us that outside the little world we live in, there is a bigger world that we’re a part of.
But most news doesn’t make headline copy because it isn’t about the big world—it’s about our small world, about us and those close to us.
Some of the things going on in our little world are so routine we slog through them without giving them a second thought.
Others are so jarring they make our teeth rattle: rejection, depression, failure, disappointment, loneliness, fear.
War? Yes, in our own private world, we’re at war, if only with ourselves: “What I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:19). And we scribble in the margin, “That’s me.”
The battles are real, and the stakes are high.
Hunger? Yes, we experience that too.
In the big world, thousands of economically deprived children with tear-streaked cheeks, bloated bellies, and arms and legs like sticks starve to death every day.
That kind of hunger is unknown to most of us, but emotional hunger gnaws at us—the hunger to be wanted, to be understood, to be loved, to be at peace.
And the hunger to be better than we are, a “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”
Poverty? Yes, we know the pinch of poverty.
In our little world, we know next to nothing about economic poverty, but at times we feel the ache of inner famine. Like King David, who had a boatload of money but admitted to being “poor and helpless,” our material prosperity doesn’t vaccinate us against the deadly virus of spiritual bankruptcy.
The World of Those Close to Us
Our little world is not just about us; it’s also about those close to us—folks who are fighting their private wars, their secret hungers, their inner poverty.
Mother Theresa said: “The spiritual poverty of the West is greater than ours . . . You in the West have millions of people who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness. These are not hungry in the physical sense, but they are in another way. They know they need something more than money, yet they don’t know what it is.”
When Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” he wasn’t tossing out a cliché to slap on the refrigerator door; he was telling us to feel the hurts of those who live shoulder-to-shoulder with us—those we live with, work with, worship with.
Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter said he did. Then feed my sheep, take care of my lambs, Jesus said.
If we love him, that’s what we will do—feed each other, take care of each other—because that’s what love of him does: “Anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did for me,” he said.