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Possessed of a Cause


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Possessed of a Cause


Pray that my work for the poor doesn’t get in the way of my love for God.
— Mother Teresa, to one who asked how to pray for her.

Proverbs 3:1-18
Hebrews 13:5-6
Matthew 13:22

These people always intrigue and sadden me: they have bumper stickers decrying the plight of a people or the earth. They rally and picket. They have a cause (or maybe the cause has them). And they’re filled with rabid poison toward their adversaries.

You know them. They show up on 24-hour news channels, in your college classrooms, at protests and political fundraisers. They burn with passion for their cause, supposedly spurred on by love. But you can feel their anger and bitterness.

For such people who lean left, President George W. Bush has been a gift. For all the talk of peace and progress, these groups hate this man. He gives them a raison d'être. Hate does little for the aforementioned group’s stated goals.

For those who tilt to the right, ditto Clinton (and “liberals” as a group). For all the talk of morality and righteousness, many social conservatives undermine their cause as they emotionally burn the former president in effigy.

Mother Teresa got it. Her cause, ostensibly, was caring for the poor and dying in Calcutta. Few people had more reason to yell and scream and grow angry from frustration. The dying and abandoned have few champions, and a capable world turns a blind eye to these inconvenient and uncomfortable people.

But Mother Teresa also saw that if she clung too tightly to this cause, she’d steal it from the God who gave it to her. She could be tempted to think was all about her, and she’d forget the author of the vision.

The indomitable love idea resurfaces.

Love for God and then others, even our enemies, must come first, before a cause or passion. If it does not, our cause will destroy us. Causes make merciless taskmasters. Whether we lose hope, forget that God calls the shots, or quit seeing our enemies as made in God’s image, we’ll learn bitterness, cynicism, hate and anger.

If my heart is full of these things, what do I have to offer a hurting world? If I have passion and resources and a willingness to live and die, but have not love, what am I?

What price do we pay within ourselves for a cause?
What is the ultimate reason for our cause?
What lies beneath it in us? Anger? Fear? Real love?


© 2006