I Am Not A Good Person

My daughter talked to God today. As far as I'm aware, it's the first time she's done so without being prodded. She's not yet three years-old.

The impetus of her piety was a cracker. She was eating a saltine and, lifting it to the ceiling of our dining room, she offered it to God.

'I love you, God. We love you. I love you for my cracker.'

Today I consumed, in order, two cups of coffee; one pancake; a half a cup of scrambled eggs; two more cups of coffee; two freshly made bowls of cheddar and potato soup; two chunks of beer-batter bread; a small glass of cola; a bowl of cooked pasta with tomato sauce; another chunk of that bread; a saltine; a glass of something called 'prickly pear cooler;' and, later, I'll probably have some popcorn and another can of cola. I'll take a hot shower and brush my teeth. If I have a headache or my back hurts, I'll take some Advil. I'll climb into bed in a warm room with clean sheets. I may or may not sleep well, but in the morning I'll wake up and head to church without any fear of religious persecution. Indeed, my culture values religion to the point that I'm considered a more solid citizen for being religious. On Monday, I'll go to work where, with my wife's income, I make enough money to pay for two cars, a house in the suburbs, two vacations a year and a wardrobe of clothes voluminous enough that I could go two, maybe three weeks and never wear the same outfit twice. My two girls are healthy, never miss a doctor's appointment. I don't worry about malnutrition, malaria, disease.

Christ tells me to love others as myself. He made it a commandment, on par with not killing people and staying true to my wife. I say I care about others, but I don't. Not really. Near my house there's an Interstate overpass under which a man sleeps. I pass by his makeshift bed every day and do nothing. I give a little cash to charity--my wife hopped online during American Idol recently and gave our credit card number to the tune of $20, supposedly to help feed African children--and there's this little girl's picture on our fridge who lives in El Salvador; we give her a little money too, but not very much. A Christian radio station gets a few bucks. Our church does, too. But that's it. That's all. I smile, act like a good follower of Jesus, tell co-workers about Him and hope, when I face Him in a few years, that He conveniently forgets how callous I was with the life He gave me.

There's a story in the Bible. It's kinda famous. A rich dude comes to Jesus and wants to know what He can do to make it to Heaven. Jesus tells him to give everything he has to the poor and follow Him. That's it. No qualifiers. No disclaimers. Just that simple. And the man couldn't do it.

What if Jesus meant what He said? What if He means what He says right now?

'If any man would be my disciple, He must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.' That's Jesus. That's what He said. That's what He meant. That's what He means. I say I want to be His disciple. I say that I am. But do I really? Am I really? Oh, I'm redeemed, saved, sanctified...whatever you want to call it.

But am I His disciple? Or am I just pretending to be?

I have all that I need. I have most of what I want. Yet there are people, not thousands of miles away, but right here, in my community, who face terrible need, terrible suffering. Who will be Jesus to them? It won't be me...I've already proven that.

Yet here is my daughter, fresh and innocent, standing before a God she knows is there, offering up a simple saltine in thanksgiving. I am humbled by that simple act of piety, and ashamed that my own doesn't properly extend to a true understanding of what it means to boldly live my faith.

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