When was the last time that your stomach truly hurt from being hungry?  I’m not talking about the kind of hungry that we typically talk about… You know, the I’m starving, it’s-been-two-hours-since-I-had-a-cup-of-coffee-and-nibbled-on-a-donut kind of hungry.  I’m also not talking about the I’m bored so I’m going to eat something hunger.  I mean, how long has it been since you have really and truly been hungry?

HungryRight now, as I write this I am actively trying to stave off the desire to go downstairs, head to my pantry and pull out any number of different snack assortments.  Secretly I would surrender to my stomachs call for more if only I knew that I could chow down on some chips and salsa.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for some good Tex Mex with my favorite being Chuy’s.  UGH SO GOOD.  I mean look at that salsa!  So, what’s the deal with not eating?  No.  I don’t have an eating disorder.  Rest at ease.  This big boy is going to be just fine.

I’ve been reading Jen Hatmaker’s book 7 and I came across this quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’  But the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’

Do you see the difference there?

Often we think of ourselves first and foremost and others only when we have excess.

What if for once we flipped that on it’s head and thought of others first and worried about the excess later?  I wonder what kind of a difference that would make in the world around me.  And no, I don’t mean the whole, “Eat everything on your plate.  Don’t you know that there are starving kids in India” schtick.  I mean, what if instead of pampering myself I actually tended to the needs of others around me.  What would it look like for me to take care of my elderly neighbors?  What would it look like to serve the community that I live in?

What would it look like for me to experience discomfort so that others can experience comfort?

Do you remember the story of the lawyer who came to Jesus to try and stump him?  Moron… But anyway.  Here’s how it went down

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Crazy right?  Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant by love your neighbor as yourself?  There is no one in this world that I love more than me.  For real.  Just ask my wife!  When my body says it needs sleep, I tend to that.  When my body says I need food, I go get it.  I do exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it.  What would it look like if I loved my neighbor in that same way.  What if I put their needs on the same level as my own?

I love what Jen Hatmaker says in her book.  She says,

I’m going to bed tonight grateful for warmth, an advantage so expected it barely registers.  May my privileges continue to drive me downward to my brothers and sisters without.  Greater yet, I’m tired of calling the suffering “brothers and sisters” when I’d never allow my biological siblings to suffer likewise.  That’s just hypocrisy veiled in altruism.  I won’t defile my blessings by imagining that I deserve them.  Until every human receives the dignity I casually enjoy, I pray my heart aches with tension an my belly rumbles for injustice.

So tonight I go to bed with my stomach asking for more.  It’s a good reminder for me to ask my Heavenly Father to show me the ways that I can truly love my neighbors as myself.  I am praying for eyes to see the Samaritan that needs help and to have the courage to be the one that embraces them.  Time to see the excess in my life as not a means to increase my comfort but a way to care for others.

~Peter