Thursday, October 08, 2009

Loafing it with Everybody in the church

My wife wrote an excellent blog on our adoption blog, The Road to Ethiopia. I wanted to share it with other readers and those on Facebook. There is a mission before us to take the Gospel to a lost and dying world, to love people who aren't easy to love and serve people in difficult places. Read through Karen's post and consider how you and your church are carrying Jesus' message and love because you know the objective reality of Christ's love and grace.

One year ago today, we had just submitted our online application to America World Adoption with the non-refundable $250. We were waiting to hear if we had been approved into the Ethiopian Adoption Program. Here we are today, 366 days later & all in at about $25,000 thus far & waiting. We’ve done a lot of waiting over the past year….not just waiting in line for popcorn at the movies or waiting in a really long line to pay a toll booth fee (neither of us miss the traffic aspect of Chicago).

This past year has been filled with HIGHLY stressful waiting…big, big WAITING….and right now, we are again waiting. I feel like I've had some real experiences with waiting prior to our adoption, and most of them centered around my education. I waited to hear about grad school applications...waited to hear about my residency placement....waited to hear if i passed the national licensure exam (very stressful)...waited 9 years for a degree and a real job. I'd describe all of those experiences as difficult and stressful. But I’d much rather do any of that type of waiting all over again than do this kind of waiting… the lack of 100% assurance is indescribably difficult. Don’t get me wrong… He IS our son. Even if the most horrifically awful thing occurred, and Ethiopia closed their borders for international adoption, and if we were not allowed to adopt him… HE IS OUR SON. I’m guessing at that juncture John Mark would initiate some commando/rambo-like operation to get him ….

MY point is the lack of assurance is so difficult. At times if I allow my thoughts to wander, it's quite unbearable. But, our thoughts are guarded and our assurance and our peace are grounded in Jesus. I know that sounds cheesy or real "Sunday School-ish," but honestly our thoughts really are and have been focused throughout this entire journey on God's sovereignty and HIS plan for our lives & our family. I'm not sure how anyone could navigate this experience without faith, trust, and assurance that God is on the THRONE. However, even with faith & trust, it’s still really hard...REALLY hard, but then again we never expected & certainly weren’t promised anything different.

I think John Mark & I have learned quite a bit from our multiple times of waiting this year. I know we’re both stronger in our walk with the Lord, and I know our hearts are even more burdened for orphans & for people who do not know Jesus as Savior and brother. We’ve become even more aware of the fact that OUR LIFE IS NOT OUR OWN, and that the materialistic things (which I definitely placed value in during portions of my life) are so incomprehensibly pointless when compared to providing a hope and a future for a child without a mother and father. Personally, I’ve learned that everyone isn’t passionate or burdened for orphans or the priority for Christian families to advocate for adoption in some form or fashion. That’s been a very difficult lesson for me. To be quite honest, I’m still working on this one, and it's really hard for me. I think for most people, Christianity is so very easy ~ especially in middle class America. We buy our multiple SUVs for one family, sport our 7 jeans, and have all of the latest electronics. Then, maybe we give a little here and there to the church or maybe twice a year give a little to missions (if your church even provides an outlet to give to missions or educates its members on the importance of giving to missions for the Kingdom of Christ)....all the while most churches struggle to pay bills and there are 147 million orphans in the world, and there are people dying every day who don't know Jesus. I heard or read somewhere recently a statistic that there is some ridiculously large amount of missionaries wanting to go & serve, but they are unable to go & proclaim His glory among the nations because there isn't enough funding. That's sick....

From a clinical perspective, I think a variation of the social psychology term “social loafing” applies to most American Christians. Social loafing theory describes a tendency related to group dynamics and performance. For this example a group would be the overarching group of Christianity along with the smaller grouping of a local church. Social loafing theory suggests (with years of empirically supported data) that there is an overarching tendency or phenomena for people to make less effort to achieve a goal or contribute less effort when working in a group. In other words it’s the tendency for people in a group to simply rely on others to “get things done.” Social loafing is seen as one of the main reasons groups are sometimes less productive than the combined performance of their members working as individuals.

Yikes…that’s a pretty scary idea for the church when it comes to tithing, giving, supporting missions and orphan care, and all around giving for the Kingdom of Christ. It's also pretty scary when it comes to serving, evangelism, and discipleship. But, I think it’s a very important theory /notion, particularly for the church since our American society is so extreme with egocentrism, entitlement, materialism, and decreased Christ-centered uses of His money. Yes, I said it. I said that something not only from secular psychology but SECULAR SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY has really important implications for the church! Blam…there it is…I said it, and I stand by it.

People aren’t giving, going, or placing Christ at the REAL center of their lives because we expect others to do it. "Group members" are not teaching children on Sunday mornings or helping disciple teenagers because "well, someone else will do it... good ol' jimmy, he's always helping out with those loud teenagers on Wednesday nights; he'll do it." Those of us that profess Christ as Savior and Brother, are all in this group of Christianity and hopefully we're in the subgrouping of church. But, the majority of us are stuck expecting other people to get the job done. I wish more of us would see there is so much more…. I pray that I will see in bigger, deeper ways that there is SO MUCH MORE. I’m learning adoption & orphan care isn’t going to be everyone’s “thing,” but I really believe all Christians need to have their “thing.” Don’t be a loafer…. Pray about it! Find it!! Get passionate! Be passionate!! Stay passionate!!!