Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
The first year I moved to Northern Uganda, the security situation was not completely stable. There were weekly security meetings with all the NGOs (non-government organizations) which included the small Bible teaching organization I had joined. I was tasked with attending these meetings with a colleague from South Sudan, an Acholi man. These aid workers in the meeting talked about how they had to hurry and get their work done because no one wanted to stay in this place with this people. Wow. These were not believers, but it embarrassed me and broke my heart nonetheless. I felt ashamed as a person who came from outside. This group of people was representing all of us to locals who saw us as having the same heart and agenda. How could they know any differently, when no one (or at most very few) was here to actually live with the people and love them? Thankfully this has changed since those days of war, but there is still far too much pride and arrogance amongst people who come from outside of this culture (including people from other parts of Uganda who look down on them!)
Sadly, I have seen many missionaries come and go who acted as if they were the saviors of the people here. They came across like they were smarter, knew the better way to do things, had the perfect solution for the poverty and diseases around, and were coming to save Northern Uganda. I’m sorry to sound harsh, but this mindset makes me sick.
Who are we that we should think of ourselves any higher than anybody else? Are we not all dust? Do we not all die in our sin without the cross of Christ?
The only One who ever had a right to come into a culture and act that way was God Himself. Yet, He didn’t. He met the people where they were at. He became just like us (apart from the whole sin thing.) He chose to strip Himself of His reputation and the honor due Him, to become a servant. A servant. Jesus, the Living God in the flesh, humbled Himself and stepped into our filthy world. If that wasn’t enough, He didn’t zap and obliterate everyone who would stand in the way of Him being known. The people He had the real problem with were those who were puffed up in their own estimation and acted better than everyone else. It was the sinner, the dirty beggar, the sickly and the outcasts that Jesus hung out with. He touched them. He loved them. He died for them. He taught them a better way (the Only way), but He never did it by telling them that they were dirty, brainless, backwards, or any of those things. Jesus had the right to tell all of us those things, though He chose love and grace instead. Until we die on the cross for all of humanity and live a sinless life, we have no right to place ourselves above others.
Jesus called men and women from every social stratum - from the slums to the palaces - to come and follow Him. He ate with them, dwelled with them, and loved them. He still does this, and He desires to do that through our lives.
If we want to follow Jesus, we must become like Him. We must stop thinking that we can save anyone, whether that’s in our own culture or abroad. And we certainly need to stop thinking that we are any better. If God has blessed you with a good education, with good hygiene and health practices, with skills and credentials that others don’t have the opportunity to get - We should simply love with them, live with them, and lovingly (but without compromise) show them The Way.
Let us humble ourselves today and step out of His way. I believe we will see revival like never before and victory in our own lives as well when we humbly follow Jesus to where He will send us.
If you’re interested in further reading on this specific topic, I covered it in more details in my first book, For the Joy Set Before Us: Insights into the Missionary Journey. You can grab your copy here: http://amzn.to/2pZdyAl .
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