As I am writing this, almost my entire face is numb. No, this isn’t the start of a “you should see the other guy” story, although I would almost it rather be!
My face, more specifically most of my mouth, is totally dead to any feeling. Just a couple hours ago, I got four shots to numb my mouth so I could get some fillings. But as much as I dislike sitting in the dentist’s chair for an hour and as painful as the sound of that high pitched drill is, what’s worse is the three hours of having a numb mug afterwards. It’s not a great sensation, not because it hurts or anything, but actually because it doesn’t! I’m hungry but if I try to eat anything I might bite my lip off and not even know it! Not to mention how awkward it is to drink water when it just drips out of the numb side of my mouth. It’s funny how pain and sensation is such a vital tool to so many common activities.
But honestly, it’s my fault. The reason I got cavities in the first place is because I didn’t floss too regularly (which my dentist tells me is a bad thing). Actually, one of my favorite responses to my dentist asking, “When was the last time you flossed?” is, “The last time you flossed them for me!” If I just hadn’t neglected to floss, I wouldn’t be sitting here with a numb face.
The funny thing is, I think this is exactly what happens to us when we choose to be selfish. We go about our lives, only thinking of ourselves while neglecting the needs of the people around us. Pretty soon, we go numb spiritually to the thought that there could be any concern greater than our own. We don’t feel the pain of anyone around us; it’s as if they’re not even there.
But Jesus makes it pretty clear that we’re supposed to care for the needy – “Love God and love others” are the most important commandments for those who follow Jesus (Matthew 22:35-40). In Matthew 25:31-46 (I would encourage you to read this!), Jesus even goes on to tell us that by taking care of the needy, the outcast, the sick, etc., we are caring for Him! Likewise, when we reject the needs of others, we reject Jesus! I don’t know about you, but this passage hits me pretty hard.
That’s one reason why I love the idea of the blessing bags that we’re doing at Central, filling up gallon bags with essential supplies for the homeless in Phoenix. Projects like this are at the heart of Jesus’ ministry, and they help us get in the mindset that there are needy people ALL around us. The important question is, do you see them? Are you doing anything for the needy, outcast, and sick? Or… are you numb?
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward them for what they have done.” Proverbs 19:17