Kissing the Ground
Here's what I seem to hear every time a group returns from a short-term missions trip:
"I am so thankful to live in America."
"God has really blessed us."
"I don't know how I would survive in [insert whatever country here]."
After years as a youth worker and youth pastor, I completely identify with our joy in seeing our young people (or anyone else for that matter) being thankful. Few things are more grating than an ungrateful teen or twenty-something with a $200 smartphone in their designer jeans pocket.
Here is what I do not get though. Our common refrain after returning to America indicates that much of our worship and praise of God is being driven by His material blessings on America and our life in America specifically. Then how are those people in the majority world (that's the preferred way to refer to what used to be called the third world) supposed to praise God without those material blessings?
We have been so blinded by our idolatry of stuff that we don't even realize that it has colored our worship. Our vertical (person to God) relationship is hindered. We are more thankful for the stuff than the Stuff-Giver.
These feelings do additional harm horizontally. We condescend and take a paternal pity on those "poor natives." We rob those without our physical blessings of the dignity that being created in the image of God affords them.
Finally, we face the problem of Job. What happens if the Lord takes it all away? Will we curse Him, or will we fall and worship?
The title of this series is Why Americans should travel. It is obvious. If we are able, I believe that we should travel internationally. But if our attitudes, hearts, and minds aren't in the right gear, our travel may serve to further ingrain our prejudices deeper. Our travel can also be used by the Lord to expand our vision and give us humility.
Which do you want?
Next post we will finally examine some ideas that you can actually put into practice.
Why Americans Should Travel Series
- My Trip to Slovenia - Part 1
- McAloo Tikkis are ok - Part 2
- Kissing the ground - Part 3
- Ride the bus - Part 4
- Chill out - Part 5
[^majority world]: That's the preferred way to refer to what used to be called the third world.