THE ROOM WENT SILENT when I asked the question.
I think some were stunned. Then angry.
I was in a Bible study. The group was talking about how Christians step up to help people in need. We had plenty of examples in the group because we’re kind people.
Examples included the story of my wife paying the grocery bill for a babysitting, grandmotherly lady in front of her. The woman’s “instant deposit” didn’t go through: Why I hugged my wife on Tuesday.
There were some over-the-top, heartwarming stories from this group. Some stories told. Most stories not. My headliner, which we didn’t talk about because the group already knew about it: A home for Rosa, a single mom in a Honduras hilltop village.
Then came my question.
“Why are we Christians eager to help when the person in need happens to cross our path. But when the problem is nationwide – like people who can’t afford their medicine or people who can’t get a job – we resist joining with the entire nation to address the nationwide need?”
That’s what I threw on the group. We were all feeling warm and fuzzy until then – satisfied with our expressions of Christian compassion.
During the stunned looks, I got just a one-word answer before we quickly moved on to some other topic.
The answer I got: “Compartmentalization.”
I said, “Oh, the way President Kennedy compartmentalized his life: ‘This is my time in the day to be President. This is my time to be a father and husband. This is my play time with Marilyn Monroe’?”
That’s as far as we got. I didn’t get a chance to clarify what my friend meant.
Here’s my best guess. Me = good. Government = bad.
When Christians pitch me that ball, I hit it with this club: Me = Government.
Jesus said something like this: “My kingdom is not in the world,” (John 18:36).
But his people are.
And in our country – at the moment, though not necessarily in the future – we have freedoms the Jews didn’t have 2,000 years ago, under Roman occupation.
We can speak out to defend the rights of people who don’t have the voice or the platform to speak out for themselves. And we can vote for representatives who have compassion for people at risk – on a personal level and on a national scale.
We all know that some people take advantage of national programs. People take advantage of us, too, on the personal level. People exploited Jesus, as well, using his name to build fame for themselves (Luke 9:49-50).
But it didn’t stop Jesus from doing what God sent him to do.
It doesn’t stop us from helping the hurting people who cross our path.
And perhaps, some wonder, it shouldn’t stop a nation of compassionate Christians from helping the needy masses just because some manage to abuse the system.
Should we stop helping everyone simply because some exploit the system?
Should we abandon to scattered locals a national problem that seems to require a national response?
In decades past, the church has led the way when they saw a need. Churches started the hospitals. They started schools and colleges, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Oxford among them.
I wonder. Since many Christians seem opposed to helping the needy through government programs, and since the need is still great, should the church step up and plow the road?
- Prescription Meds for All, sponsored by the United Methodist Church
- College for Everyone Who Makes the Grade, sponsored by the Church of God in Christ
- Homes for the Homeless, sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention
Clearly there is hurt that needs healed. Perhaps all we Christians need are the eyes to see it and the hearts to feel it.
Until then, many people are going to be left wondering “Where is God?”
Paul had the answer for the people of faith:
“God’s Spirit lives in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Open season on books: Blog subscribers get to give away some books
If you know someone in the USA who hasn’t gotten a free book from me but could use one – and might actually read it – send me a name in a note. I’ll follow up with a request about where to mail it.
Here are some of the free review books I have at the moment:
- A Quick Guided Tour Through the Bible
- Strange and Mysterious Stuff from the Bible
- 100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible
- Quién es quién y dónde es dónde en la Biblia 2.0 (Spanish edition of Who’s Who & Where’s Where in the Bible 2.0)
- Big Dummies of the Bible
- La Guía Completa de Profecías Bíblicas (Spanish edition of The Complete Guide to Bible Prophecy)
I give away free books each week. It’s normally to randomly selected subscribers to my free blog and quarterly newsletter.
But this week I’m opening it up to a wider group.
Call it Spring Cleaning. My wife does.
You are asking the same question I have asked many times. Christians who don’t wish to help others aren’t Christian.
Stephen M. Miller
Greg, you’re sounding like a preacher. I’m willing to give people the benefit of the doubt regarding their Christianity.
I’d say, rather, that if they’re not willing to help others they are not acting like a Christian and they’re being selfish. Ignorance is a part of the problem, I think. People get down on things they’re not up on.
It’s a good thing to turn off Fox News and read the newspaper or apps by the Associated Press or Reuters or some other objective, professional site featuring journalism on the job. it’s also good to spend time with the folks who need the help. It makes the need more real and less philosophical.
First thot I had was that people don’t trust the government. The govt, thru excessive taxation, has usurped the church’s role of taking care of the needy for the purpose of pandering to a potential voting block.
OK, The government can not do anything for the people until it first takes from the people. (Some famous person said that). I know of no government run programs that are really helpful as compared to their wastefull management and negative side effects. The Redistribution of wealth is not helpful, its enslaving. Many private orginazations do wonderful compassionate works with great efficencies. I give to and or have worked work with some of them, as could large groups (churches). But to contribute extra to a government that wastes so much, has little accountability and may arguably contribute to a growing dependent class of citizenship I believe would even be poor stewardship.
Stephen M. Miller
Wally, we gotta counterbalance those TV talking points with everything Jesus said about helping people in need.
Chaplain Jill Sizemore
I agree, Steve. We are the ones that must counterbalance those TV talking points with everything Jesus said about the reason we are here, and we must be the ones pointing out the waste and abuse as well. We must be willing to do our part of political activism in order to say with our dollars and/or time that Jesus was about exposing lies and inviting healing – all at the same time.
Thanks for this post. It re-centered me. Aga
Chaplain Jill Sizemore
AGAIN! See, a second chance via technology!
Stephen M. Miller
Yep, no doubt about that. Thanks, Jill.