We’re born with our stomachs growling. We’re born needy and grasping. We require nurture to grow, and we’re born consumers. We come hard-wired with the hand motions of grasping and clutching.
To become a disciple of Jesus Christ, who taught his disciples “give to the one who asks you,” we must be taught to exchange these hand motions for the one of an outstretched hand – the hand motion of giving. In the book of Romans (chapters 6-8 in particular), Paul gives us the theology of this exchange. But lots of Christians who are very familiar with Romans have never acquired the posture of a giver.
Some of us have the gift of giving, but most of us have to see the magic of that transaction (“it is more blessed to give than to receive” our master tells us) and to commit to learning it. We have to be discipled in it.
This is why short-term mission trips can be powerful discipling tools. They are laboratories in giving. Teenagers who are prone to a me-first, butt-in-line reflex get to see the magic with their own eyes. By comparison, summer camps are great for some things, but they do little to rectify this fundamental problem of the soul.
Pity the poor parents who spend hundreds on camp experiences or vacations that feed the grasping reflex, but leave the soul untouched. They should take to heart Jesus’ words, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”
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I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.