After reading numerous articles and searching for a good subject to discuss with you, I landed on a article who's title included a "New Obsession of Self-Restraint" is engulfing Japan." http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/world/asia/28tokyo.html?_r=1&hp Initially, it was the title it self that captured my attention while also catching me off guard. Specifically in Western culture, the idea of an obsession typically has a negative connotation. The word to many us most likely represents a movement towards self gratification or at least some form of self indulgence.
When I look at many Americans today, I see an almost infinite number of individuals who have been condition to perceive, understand, and determine that the way we live our lives should be all about "Me". I have to admit that while I am a single young man, I have become more and more fearful of the World that my hopeful future wife and kids will be subjected to. We see self pleasing ideals through the medias portrayal of cultural values. We are swallowed up in work environments that tell us to do whatever we can to get ahead of the next guy. However, what may be worst of all is that I also believe that even the churches we attend these day share some of these same characteristics. Embarrassing as it is, I would have to admit that I myself have been guilty in my own life of these undoubtedly negative qualities. The Church should be a place of welcoming acceptance, grace, mercy, and love.
Unfortunately, in many of the churches I have attended, I would have to say that all that can be seen is a well developed facade of how Christ showed us to live. Christ in the Commandments not only shares with us his desires for our lives, but he also commands us into action. The greatest commandments he states, is to "Love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself". While many Christians and non Christians know this Biblical principle, very few I believe enact it on a daily bases.
In Japan, due to a very unfortunate turn of events the people are voluntarily doing what every they can to survive as a nation. In the article, (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/world/asia/28tokyo.html?_r=1&hp) you can read how people across the whole country are making sacrifices that are allowing Japan to remain standing after a sucker-punch that the Earth landed straight to its chest! What really caught my attention was that the Japanese are not fulfilling these needs due to strict governmental regulations or laws. However, through their own humility and serventship they are intentionally changing their life styles for the betterment of their countrymen.
While American is not in the exact situation currently. I do believe that like Japan, our country is one disaster away from either making or breaking it. Currently, we see issues in a number areas in America. Social Security is almost non existent, we continually break new records of our National Debts that we owe to foreign countries, and worst of all many are beginning to loose faith in our Government. I hope that we as Americans can learn from the history that is unfolding right before our eyes.
Japan just as America used to be within the most prosperous countries on the Earth. However, due to initially a recent poor economy, (just like America) and now a natural disaster Japan is being forced to make changes for the better. I wonder if Americans have it in them anymore to make sacrifices for others even when it is not mutually beneficial. More importantly, I wonder if Christians and Counselors can get off our "High Horse" and get into the junk and messiness of the life we share with individuals. Many times we live in a Bubble, where we think everything is perfect. However there is a huge world just on the outside that is hurting and is lost.
I want to encourage you today to sit down with God and wrestle with possible things that the Lord may lead us to sacrifice. While many individuals may believe it to be extremely righteous or noteworthy to sacrifice something as big as serving a month overseas. I also believe that God can be just as or even more pleased with making sacrifices in the little things in life. It could be something simple like deciding to make a call to someone you know maybe experiencing tough times, or even sacrificing some time out of your day to pray for individuals you have never met on the opposite side of the world. Be Blessed!