25 August 2004

"Darfur and What Is Beneficial?" August 25, 2004

I spend a lot of time thinking while waiting for things to happen: customers to need help, multi track "final" mixes to convert to stereo, and days to turn into night. These moments, however long or short, I really do enjoy and it may be more accurate to say that as of late the stuff of things happening is what I am biding through to get to the stillness. In either case, that time spend in my mind often revolves around exploring what course of action, avenue of life, or way of life would work best for me. Put starkly, which of those choices would benefit me in my wants (sometimes my needs) the most. If we are honest about it I think most of us would concede this. And it is true that to some degree we must think of these things.

One might say having faith in God to provide all needs and the wisdom to choose, through meditation on Him, that our inner discussions would turn to things of lesser imperative to decide on our own. This is true. There should be careful consideration of many things God has ordained (and some others that man has made) for us to enjoy; this of particular importance to those committed to lead a simpler, more focused life. Saint Paul writes that many things ("all things" to some) are permissible but not all of the same are always beneficial. Now it is obvious that all of the choices aren't always beneficial to the one making them otherwise there would be no need to consider the options with such care. I could live with the attitude of "come what may"; if a door opens then I will walk through it, etc.

What would happen if we re-framed Paul's oft quoted truism with the teachings of Christ in mind being the one on whose philosophies and lifestyle Paul was building? Most theologians and average lay people would agree, as do I, that we can sum up the main thrust of true Christianity is the pursuit of loving God and one another: that being all people not just those of the stated faith. In fact, that idea goes back even to the first two of the ten commandments given to Moses. Christ's role was as the ultimate example of this in life/action and finally death/inaction. Both very powerful statements.

In the spirit of this lifestyle, might we first ask "what is beneficial for others"? This of course is not easy in today's globalized economy, mixing of nationalism and religion, and our own bare faced self interest. God, I'm so guilty of this. In this light, the issue is especially important. When the first question has been considered and answered we should move on, seeking God's will and peace through all of it, to the personal affects of the choices assuming that we even feel any of choices are any longer necessary.

All of this I consider for myself today a day of fasting and prayer for the genocide induced crisis the Darfur region of Sudan and the resulting famine for the tens of thousands driven, now homeless, into neighboring lands. I t causes me to again evaluate what is important to me and what should be. A humbling reminder of how blessed I am and still so fickle.

Consider visiting these sites to learn more about what is going on in Sudan and what you can do to help:

Mennonite Central Committee - Sudan Appeal

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