Photographer’s Monday Devotional: Called to serve

This is a Christian cross at the Masaya volcano, a caldera located in Masaya, Nicaragua, 20 km south of the capital Managua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100]

This past week Christians around the world celebrated Easter. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ and his teachings.

I have been reflecting on how my faith is impacting how I live.

This is a shepherd boy in Soubakamedougou, Burkina Faso, West Africa. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-125mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 100, ƒ/5.6, 1/125]

I have been thinking about how Jesus came to earth and taught us how to live and did so by introducing us to deal with the most difficult of situations.

Matthew 5:38-48

Eye for Eye
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

When Jesus was here on earth, the Jews were under the rule of the Romans and treated much like slaves. Jesus also didn’t come as a warrior and take on the Romans. He used the opportunity to teach us how to live under the rule of others.

Most of us are not in positions of authority over others. After running my own business for more than fifteen years, I am more aware of this than ever. I am very much like a servant to my clients.

These verses in Matthew 5:38-48 remind me of how Jesus was teaching us the power of serving while being mistreated.

Women carry their wares to market in the bush village of Sabtenga, Burkina Faso, West Africa. [Nikon D2X, Sigma 18-50mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 100, ƒ/2.8, 1/1000]

Luke 11:46

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

Jesus also talked to those in positions of power and pointed out how they create burdens for people and do nothing to help them. 

What I find interesting in the scripture is that Jesus appeals to each person’s heart to do the right thing and doesn’t use the power play to change them.

A little boy in Nicaragua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 560, ƒ/4, 1/100]

I am thankful for my faith. I am grateful for having Jesus Christ as a teacher. As I read the scriptures, I realize that these are not stories of way back when but examples that help me live today.

No matter how much I struggle due to others, I must take on these burdens with love. We truly live out the Christian faith through our love of those who persecute us.

Man with his son and horse in downtown San Benito, Nicaragua. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 200, ƒ/9, 1/100]

I often feel like this man on his cart being pulled by a horse surrounded by cars. I think the burden of trying to live with so little often while it appears those around me are in such luxury.

The family photo was taken on vacation in 2002 at Sawgrass Resort in Ponte Vedra, Florida. [Nikon D100, Nikon 24-120mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/180]

Then I am reminded of what a wonderful family I have and the vacations we have taken.

Have you got $2200? In this world, you’re rich. Assets (not cash) of $2200 per adult place a person in the top 50% of the world’s wealthiest.

If you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a house or apartment, and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, you are among the top 15% of the world’s wealthy.

You earn $25,000 annually in the top 10% of the world’s income earners.

You earn more than $50,000 annually in the top 1% of the world’s income earners.

What is remarkable about Jesus is he taught us how to live no matter our status. His instructions, if we choose to obey them, will change our lives from the inside out rather than from the outside in.

Here are a couple of verses about obedience to Christ’s teachings for the Christian:

Romans 2:6-8

6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

John 14:15

15 “If you love me, keep my commands.

A woman in prayer in Togo, West Africa. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm ƒ/4, ISO 8000, ƒ/4, 1/100]

Romans 8:26

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

We have been given Jesus as an example of how to live within this world. He showed us how to pray because I think he understood how our life is so complicated that we need God to navigate it each day.

Jesus taught us to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and the only way to do this is, in my opinion, through a lot of prayers.

J. K. Rowling wrote in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.”

Long before the writings of J. K. Rowling was the Gospel writer Mark wrote to Christians who said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”