Like many people, I was saddened to hear that a famous lion named Cecil had senselessly been killed recently in Zimbabwe by an American dentist. The outrage and vitriol that has been unleashed toward the man is unprecedented.
To be sure, it is a tragedy when an endangered animal is needlessly killed, as if for sport. We should seek to protect endangered species.
I wonder, though, why it is that western society finds it so easy to get behind causes – like Cecil’s – that are a world away, while we find it so much more difficult to stand up for causes that are closer to home?
I fear it may be because there is so much more effort involved in putting our money where our collective mouth is when it comes to supporting causes that are on our doorstep.
Last weekend, on my way home from a week of study and prayer, I visited something I might call the biggest model railroad in the world, except it’s not a model. It comprises a full-size 18-stall roundhouse, with turntable, all built to the standards of the mid-1900s, a backshop, and a whole bunch of steam and diesel locomotives – all 12-inches-to-the-foot scale. There had to be an investment of at least US$100 million on the property. And it was all built and amassed for the pleasure of the owner.
I found myself thinking, There are so many amazing things that could have been done with the money that’s tied up here. I have no idea what other wealth the owner has, or what he does with it, but I do know that $100 million would build a lot of Habitat For Humanity homes. It would serve as seed money for a lot of small businesses that would employ those without work. It would plant a lot of crops to feed the hungry.
But the fact is, I can’t do anything about what another rich person does with his money. I can only do what I can to support causes that matter to me – human causes, causes that are close to the heart of God.
I can tweet about all manner of awful situations, but what am I doing about them? How am I putting muscle and sweat, along with money and speech, into efforts that will help build God’s Kingdom?
I encourage you to ask yourself the same question.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like” (James 1.22-24, NLT).