American Culture pushes the notion to “trust no one” and “everyone has an angle.” So often that mindset causes us to be untrusting of people. Science fiction enthusiasts call that “raising your shields.”
I found myself doing this very thing on our recent mission trip to Honduras. While I was not being untrusting visiting the orphanage and school, I initially found myself being standoffish during introductions. I don’t know if it was a case of being timid in a new environment or trying to determine if the situation was as I had imagined it to be, but regardless of any of those things my attitude swiftly changed to one of pure joy by the unconditional love shown by the children and the house parents. The kids had no idea who I was but they hugged me and wanted me to play chase with them. This reminded me of the verse in 1 John 3:1 that says: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are… In His glorious way he reminded me that no matter where I go in the world He has given the gift of love and those who accept it are ALL His children.
Of course my human weaknesses kicked in when we visited the home of a former Honduran school teacher who cares for special-needs children who have been given up by the world and have little hope for life. Before we visited the children, the caretaker, Carlos, was telling us about the children and how he found them. His desire was to show the children God’s love. He started to talk about how the Honduran government did not fund his operation, and then it happened…my shields went up. Without much thought the notion of “here it comes, he’s about to ask for money” popped into my head. Once again I had let the world’s influence place doubt and skepticism into my thoughts; and once again it quickly changed because Carlos’ next sentence was not about how he needed money, but rather that he does not worry about money because it always seemed to come when it was needed. He referenced the birds in Mathew 6:25-26: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life…Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? When I heard him say this I looked into his eyes and knew this was truly a man striving for righteousness through Christ; and my shields went down.
My favorite song we sing as God’s family is “The Greatest Commands” and the bass part repeats 1 Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Sometimes it takes a good dose of unconditional love to make us (me in this case) realize that we can lower our shields and revel in God’s gifts.