The post below is an excerpt from my book Rude Awakening.
In the mid-’90s there was a movie called Bio-dome that was a bit silly. I don’t recommend it, but it is interesting to take the lessons learned from it and apply them to our tendencies as human beings and even as Christians. In the movie, the biodome was simply a giant terrarium (a transparent enclosure for keeping or raising plants or usually small animals indoors). Picture a large glass bubble, a self-sufficient environment where food is readily available and no contact with the outside world is necessary. The plants feed off the light and soil and in turn provide food for the animals. The moisture that is trapped inside serves to water the plants and animals. It’s an Eden—a utopia. Why? Everything you need is inside, and therefore no contact with the outside world is necessary. You are free to make everything perfect according to how you like it. Nobody can mess with you. It is the ultimate comfort zone.
But there is a problem. Despite our human, fleshly desires and attempts to satisfy ourselves and build our own utopia, we simply were not wired that way. We were made in God’s image. God loved those on the outside so much that He sacrificed His only Son to help them. Jesus left His comfort zone and allowed Himself to be tortured and killed.
It seems to me that many of us as Christians have created our own biodomes. Yes, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and promised to meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil. 4:19). I could list all the ways God has blessed us and provided for us, but you get the point. We may have successfully learned to love our families and our church families, but many have stopped there and decided that was good enough. Even unbelievers love their families and friends, so how exactly are we differentiating ourselves? In essence, many of us have built ourselves huts smack dab in the middle of the biodome to separate ourselves as much as possible from the faint cries of those outside who are hurting and need our help. What do we do now? Will we dare to walk up to the glass, wipe away the condensation, and look into their eyes? Are we actually willing to venture outside a place of comfort and help others?
Oops, there’s one problem—that would mess with our ultimate comfort zone. We might have to rely on Someone else. We might not find things so predictable. We might have to give up some convenience. We might not be so comfortable. We might have to show love to someone other than ourselves. We might have to be more like Jesus.
Outside the biodome, we will find other categories of people God has called us to love. One of those categories is made up of all those who are often overlooked by society. This list can seem endless, but a good starting point is the groups Jesus mentioned in Matthew 25. He mentions those who are hungry, thirsty, in need of clothing or shelter, sick, or in prison and who need to know people care. Again, sending money to organizations that meet these needs overseas is good, but that is so quick and easy that one can often do it without truly getting involved. Because of the long-distance nature of the outreach, it is easy to just open our pocketbooks without opening our hearts as well.
Yes, we absolutely should give overseas, but what about all those who have the needs mentioned above who are in your own town? Do you know what a $2 bag of ice would mean to a poor, elderly person who does not have air conditioning and is enduring one hundred-plus-degree weather? The ice will mean a great deal, but personally delivering it and telling said person that you care about him or her will bless him or her even more. God is looking for people who are willing to actually engage with others.
Mark E. Donnelly
Author of ‘Rude Awakening: What If Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong?’