There's a Grand Canyon leap of value judgment between labeling something a "reason" and calling it an "excuse." You know, one man's "reason" is another man's "excuse," and who am I to say which is which? (Unless of course we're talking about me, then it's nothing but rock solid reasons, brother!)
It's important for us as mobilizers to realize that, while some people might just be making excuses, most are articulating honest thoughts. Let's honor them by listening carefully and responding with insight and grace.
Now, with that safety net in place, can I carefully step out onto the tightrope of this question: How valid are the common excuses people give for not being more involved in God's Kingdom among other cultures? Let me float out three that seem to be prevalent and consider each of them briefly from a biblical viewpoint.
Excuse #1 - Local needs: "Why go far away when so much needs done here?"
Do you ever hear people say this? I wonder if we'll hear it more as we work through the implications of the current global economic situation.
Here's how I'd respond.
Are there needs in your community? Are there hurting, poor, lost people in your neighborhood? Certainly. Even in you live in the buckle of the Bible belt, you live among lost and lonely people. Is that a good reason to spend our resources only in our neighborhood and cities, and not direct efforts and funds to people living far away from us?
It simply is not. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." I don't think this verse can be made to say that we're to be witnesses in this order, and even less, "Do not proceed to Judea and Samaria until all witnessing has been done in Jerusalem." God uses all of his people all over the place all the time.
There were still many needs in Jerusalem when believers began to fan out to Judea and Samaria in Acts 8:1. Paul, after he began to follow Jesus, could have busied himself with all sorts of good, profitable, and worthwhile work in Jerusalem, or even in the surrounding areas. He didn't set his heart on Spain (Romans 15:24) because the needs were met all around him, but because his work was in Spain.
Some of us need to work within a stone's throw of our homes because Jesus is there at work. Some of us need to go where none of us have gone before, because Jesus is there as well.
Does my response make sense to you? Does it hold water? How would you respond to this reason/excuse?
Stay tuned for tomorrow's excuse!