Go outside!

I've been reading Danny Akin's 10 Who Changed the World, an account of some of the Christian faith's most dedicated and faithful missionaries whose tireless work for Christ brought the gospel to the far reaches of the world. As I read about the lives of such men and women as William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and Lottie Moon, I have been completely humbled by their commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission regardless of the costs that were demanded of them.

What has struck me as I have read the life stories of these heroes of the faith is how they did without basic necessities and comforts while in the field. They lived among the people that they served - not in spite of them - and their love for the lost was abundant. Lottie Moon, missionary to China, truly understood what it meant to live among the people that she longed to see embrace the gospel of Jesus. Coming from an aristocratic upbringing in Virginia, Lottie endured unfavorable living conditions while in China that most of us would find hard to stomach. Consider this excerpt from a letter that she penned to the head of the mission board in 1878:
The fatigue of travel is something. The inns are simply the acme of discomfort. If anyone fancies that sleeping on brick beds, in rooms with dirt floor, with walls blackened by the smoke of generations--the yard to these quarters being also the stable yard, & the stable itself being in three feet of the door of your apartment--if anyone thinks all this agreeable, then I wish to declare most emphatically that as a matter of taste I differ. If anyone thinks he would like this constant contact with what an English writer has called the "Great Unwashed," I must still say that from experience I find it unpleasant. If anyone thinks that constant exposure to the risk of small-pox and other contagious diseases against which the Chinese take no precautions whatsoever, is just the most charming thing in life, I must still beg leave to say that I shall continue to differ in opinion. In a word, let him come out and try it.
I type these words from the comfort of my home. The air conditioner is running to combat the heat and humidity outside and my children are watching television in the next room. The chair I sit in is cushioned and my computer is quick and efficient. Beside me is a pantry full of food and there are no drafts blowing through cracks in the wall nor does my roof leak. My clothes are clean and comfortable and my home is spacious enough that I do not have to live right on top of someone else. To top it all off, I have a toilet that flushes away waste and a sink that delivers clean water at the push of a lever.

I have it so good.

While not everyone is called to travel to the remote reaches of the world and live such a spartan life, it does make me wonder just how addicted we have become to the comfortable things in life. The above quote from Lottie Moon continues with a parallel drawn to the earthly life of Jesus. He was often surrounded by people, sleeping where He could, eating if He had time, and constantly traveling while battling fatigue and other physical hardships. So many have suffered so much for the sake of the gospel, doing without not just the luxuries but the basic necessities of life.


What am I willing to do without for the sake of the gospel?

Am I willing to leave the comforts of my home to speak to my neighbor who is working in his yard? Do I really want to run the risk of sweating?

Is the man sitting alone on the park bench an inconvenience to my schedule? Do I have a few minutes to "fit him in"?

Do I have time to speak a kind word to the cashier at the grocery store who has had a bad day, or am I so anxious to get the groceries home so I don't miss my favorite show?

Am I too content to embrace the comforts in my life that I find myself unwilling to leave my man-made bubble to reach those who are lost without Jesus? Are you?

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