A whole year. Time sure can fly. A year ago I read an article by Dan Kimball called “Will all the interest in social justice become trendy?”
After reading it, my mind started to wander. And it has not stopped since. One day I hope to find it again. But not now. I think his article was the starting point of this blog. I would lie awake at night, thinking of what to say. Emotions were involved. Sometimes angriness was my friend, from time to time sadness would join me, puzzlement on what to say, if anything, would attach itself, but hope was a constant companion. And now a year later I have something to say. Am I slow or what?
In essence the article talked about the trendiness of giving. Was it a problem? Will the church still be openhanded in 5 year’s time or was this a short term thing? A fashion statement? Only time will tell.
My first knee-jerk reaction was….Sjeesh, these people need to get a life. Worrying about giving. Where are you in the food-chain if this is your problem? We have children as young as 10 years, who is the head of the household, caring for younger brothers and sisters who are also dying of AIDS. What would they say if they heard that there are people in the world with this giving-problem? They would probably say something like “Stop. Stop you’re talking foreign.”
The second thing that bugged me was the distance between the givers and receivers. There is an invisible line that divides people into 2 groups. Those that have and those that have not. Those that have will give and mostly give cheerfully. They have more than enough. The Lord blessed them adequately, and now they are willing to share what they have. As long as they don’t get to close to the suffering, they will give gladly. How can I say that? Perhaps a real life example is in order. We used to go to a congregation. More or less a well off community of believers. They have a vision to connect to God and to other people in loving relationships. They have a heart for the poor. After a lot of hard work, a shelter/community was build outside of town on a farm. People that have nowhere to go have found a place welcoming them. A place where people care for them and help them back on their feet. It’s a wonderful place.
So what’s my problem you may ask. Just this. People will gladly give money as long as they can leave these poor people over there. I would not dream of inviting such a family over to my house. Perhaps for a dinner, but then they have to leave. Being poor is like a disease. I may get contaminated. We have a place for the poor. It’s over there. Thank God. Mother Theresa said. Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor, but not to the poor. There is this distance. Can a poor family come and live in my house? Will I make the effort to go to one of these people and become their friend? An equal? The effort is to much. In the story of the Samaritan the Levite and priest were a little bit busy with the work of the Lord. They did not have the time to CONNECT. They probably prayed for him. Perhaps thought that they could collect some money for the hospital costs. But getting close? That is a no-no. Is the poor a necessary evil to make the rich feel better about their giving?
Thirdly, and this is a biggie. What can poor people give? Can the rich be served by the poor? What, if anything, does the poor have, that rich people need? How are the rich served by the poor in a congregation? By cutting their lawns? Washing their cars? That would be embarrassing. No, the poor aren’t allowed anything. Except maybe being poor. Does a poor person know anything about the love of Jesus? Are you sure? What kind of people are usually in the front, speaking to the congregation? In the church today, people have a certain rated value……and are treated accordingly. Look and you will see.
Jesus is a friend to all. Rich and poor. But He is strange. Read the following and tell me what you don’t understand…..
1Co 1:25 For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
1Co 1:26 Now remember what you were, my friends, when God called you. From the human point of view few of you were wise or powerful or of high social standing.
1Co 1:27 God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and he chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful.
1Co 1:28 He chose what the world looks down on and despises and thinks is nothing, in order to destroy what the world thinks is important.
1Co 1:29 This means that no one can boast in God’s presence.(Good news Bible)
1Co 12:22 On the contrary, we cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker;
1Co 12:23 and those parts that we think aren’t worth very much are the ones which we treat with greater care; while the parts of the body which don’t look very nice are treated with special modesty, (Good news Bible)
Again, what do you see in church today? The relationships are unequal. Giving is expected from certain people and not expected from other. That means something is wrong.