September 26, 2014
Some time ago a dear friend called to encourage me regarding these ruminations. He also challenged me. In particular he suggested that I be a little more specific and confrontational in my musings (my words not his). And, that I consider writing something related to “what the Church should do in regard to the children and mothers showing up on our borders from Central America.” I have thought long and hard about this. And in the process of my contemplation it seems that this issue has gone out of the public consciousness. I’m not really sure why. I don’t know if those children are no longer coming, or if the press has “bigger fish to fry.” But the truth is, whether we know about it or not does not negate the need to answer the question. What do we in the Church do about these things?
It’s easy to hand this off to the government and say it’s their responsibility and not ours. True, it may not be our role to figure out the politics in all of this, but we are surely called to care for orphans, widows, the elderly…. The degree to which we abandon these things to the government is the degree to which we cease to be the Church of Jesus Christ. I know, I know. “So what am I supposed to do here in western PA with problems in Texas or Arizona?” I think that’s a fair question. So let me answer a question with a question. Then what are you doing in western PA to care for orphans, widows, the elderly, the homeless? As much as it’s helpful, putting money toward ministries who do these things is only a small part of the answer. I think the real issue is this: What are you doing? Not, what is your local church doing, or your denomination, or some ministry that you support. What are you doing that indicates your life as a believer in Jesus Christ?
There is an interesting comment by Jesus in Matthew 26.
11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
This text like so many others has been used over the years to justify the lack of action by Christians, i.e., “Well even Jesus says that poverty is inevitable, so why should we do anything about it? It’s just the way things are. Not to mention the fact that people are poor because they are lazy and don’t want to work.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! Seriously?! So we just ignore Mathew 25?
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
If we choose to ignore these commands then we do so at our own peril.
Again, this doesn’t address the question of children at the border of Texas or Arizona. But it does address the question of children at the borders of western Pa, or Pittsburgh, or McKeesport, or even Elizabeth. You might say, “But I don’t know about any of these things.” There is an old phrase about “ignorance”…. I’m sure you know it.
I need to finish by saying this. First, these issues are amazingly complex and I have been overly simplistic here. But that does not excuse our lack of involvement. Second, I am aware that we cannot fix all the world’s ills. So pick one thing that you will work on in the Name of Jesus. Last, I am not pointing the finger any farther than the end of my own nose. If Jesus is my Lord… what does that mean for my life?!