Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

It has come to my attention in recent years that most people are simply selfish. It never ceases to amaze me the absolute disregard for chivalry with which most people go about their daily lives. I am so taken aback by the purely selfish motives that lie behind even the most seemingly selfless acts. Truly, I feel like an alien at times. Don't get me wrong: I certainly don't view myself as a saint. I simply do not approach life the way that many seem to. Perhaps it is the way I was raised and maybe it is simply Jesus, but I have an extremely hard time relating to a lot of people on the level of self-servitude.

In high school, I tried to be as active as I could be. I took a lot of dance classes and was generally absent from many social functions, but I was as active a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council, class council, French Club, Tiger Leadership and youth group as I possibly could be. I did these things because I liked them. I love people and I really enjoy interacting with others. Furthermore, I truly enjoy serving. Sure I participated in fun FCA and youth group events, but my ultimate favorite has always been putting a smile on someone's face. The best day of the whole year in high school was the day that the local chocolatier gave FCA all the free chocolate to hand out to our classmates. That chocolate made people so happy and Mr. Donaldson was a saint to have done that for us.

When I made it to college, I was eager once again to be an active part of the student body. I joined a sorority, looked into clubs and started going to student government meetings. It was then that I realized how self-centered all of these activities were. For me, they were a chance to experience, grow and serve. Others, however, would unashamedly profess how joining Tri Delta was gonna look great on their resume and would really help build their career network. I was shocked. I had always thought sororities were about sisterhood and service. This attitude was even more rampant throughout other student organizations. When I joined Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, I discovered that nobody actually showed up to the service events. Big Brothers/Big Sisters was a sham, too. I thought I was going to help kids who needed help. Instead, parents with children living in one of the richest districts in the country would sign their kids up for practically a free babysitter. The other volunteer mentors were just looking for another thing to make them look good and they told me so in so many words. How on earth had I missed the memo on all of this? Did everyone do good works to garner some sort of reward?

Growing up in my house, you were taught to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do-- not because you got some sort of reward for it. It was expected and questions were not asked. How had everyone else's education been so very different? I also hold true to the proverb that much is asked of those who are given much. I don't need to do selfless things for other people because it looks good on my resume or gets me brownie points with my employers and coworkers. I need to do good things because good things have been given to me. In this fallen world, however, this is alien thinking.

When you think about it, you can't help but feel furthermore compelled to the cross. This world needs Jesus. That people cannot even do good in the name of doing good and that they must have some sort of personal gain from the act is simply appalling. Jesus Christ gave us the greatest gift in forfeiting everything he had. Should we not also give up everything for Him? The reward we are offered for doing nothing but trusting is truly awe-inspiring. The gift of a life with God is something I cannot even begin to comprehend. And so, because of this gift, I feel compelled to look even more on Jesus and act in a way that might repay that debt. It cannot be repayed, but it is so miraculous that there is simply no good excuse not to seek after it and live a life according to that of Christ. If it is able for this unbelieving world to see the glory of Christ through even my small actions, it was well worth the personal discomfort and sacrifice taken to get there.

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