Where were the Christians?

I’ve heard my opinions on politics called extreme. Too liberal. Too much like those “socialist” “non-God-fearing” nations like Sweden, France and Canada. God doesn’t bless nations like that; his rain falls only on the ones like ours, ones that believe the invisible hand of the capitalist, unregulated market , to be the hand of God. I’ve heard we need to take away health care, that I should be voting against people like myself, who only recently had a hope of health care that wasn’t tied to employment. I should be voting to “take out the trash” today, they say, and rid the halls of Congress of those godless liberals and their loose definition of the pursuit of happiness.

The deeper the red, the more self-identified Evangelicals

Take a look at the map above. The states with the higest poverty rate, the states with the highest infant mortality rate, the states with the highest populations by percent of Christians… are they all one in the same?

I’ve heard many times that it isn’t the government’s job to take care of the sick, or the needy, or the homeless, or the orphaned. I agree and I disagree. It shouldn’t be the government’s job to take care of the sick, or the needy, or the homeless, or the orphaned. It should be Christians’ jobs. If Christians had done their job, the government wouldn’t have needed to step in. But, where were the Christians? They were storing up treasures on Earth, where moths destroy and thieves break in and steal.

I agree; it shouldn’t be up to the government to decide who gets handouts, but where were the Christians? They were deciding between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. They were choosing to offer their charity to people who would attend their church or seemed to be helping themselves. In the Bible, there are examples of Jesus helping those who helped themselves (woman with the issue of blood), but there were also those he helped who didn’t help themselves (Lazarus, blind man, Jairus’ daughter). None of us deserve anything, or, at least none of us deserve good things, that’s why we are so blessed by grace.

If we want to be a Christian Nation, if we want to be a nation of Christians, we need to start acting like one. Leviticus 19:9-10 says: “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.” Where did that practice go?

If we want to be a Christian Nation, then either the Christians in this nation need to follow the word of God, or stop complaining when a government of, by and for the people, steps in to do it. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we’re going to have to stop talking out of one side of our mouth about the evils of abortion and out of other side about having to dole out money on welfare queens and their children. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we need to be praying for our leaders to have direction and wisdom and not praying that they die and leave their children fatherless. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we need to pray for all our leaders, not just the ones who agree with us. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we have to stop devaluing human life in other countries just because they follow the teachings of Buddha, or Mohammed or their own internal guide. If we want to be a Christian Nation, we have to be Christians in more than name.

In the interest of full-disclosure, let me say that I receive some government assistance. The same people who scream about leaches at the government teet are the same ones telling me that I should take all that is offered to me. What’s the difference between me and the rest of those suckers? How different am I? Let me tell you: I’m not that different, but they think I am. They think my white skin makes me more worthy. They think that because they know me, they know I’m qualified and fairly smart, that I’m better. They think that because I’ve managed to attain a certain degree that I deserve it, as long as the government is handing it out. I hear those comments and I don’t hear concern: I hear pride. Their own pride is speaking volumes – I’m like them, and if I need the money or the food stamps or the medicaid, then I’m entitled, just as they would be entitled if they needed it. I’m not entitled, I’m in need. I’m hoping that need is temporary.

Where were the Christians? How did we let it get this bad, that the government has to levy taxes to help the poor, instead of the churches doing it? How did we let it go this long, that the government needs to provide a refuge for the abused and neglected and elderly, instead of churches doing it? Maybe the problem is too big, now. I keep hearing that charity donations go down when taxes go up. Grumbling also increases. I listen and I hear excuses. “I’m not going to give to charity, my taxes are paying for stuff like that.” “I pay too much in taxes for the so-called social programs, I don’t have anything left.” If we had given to God what is God’s, perhaps Ceasar wouldn’t have demanded so much. If Ceasar wouldn’t have pursued a crusade, maybe we could give the taxpayers a break.

If Christians don’t want the government in their business, and I know I don’t, they need to start giving. Give the government a reason to let go of the social programs. Give until it hurts, not until it’s mildly uncomfortable. Even on assistance, even with those dollars that are deposited onto my card each month, thanks to government intervention, I give, and I could probably give more. I give in time, I give in energy and I give in prayer. If you own a Christian business, give someone who is struggling, a job. Give up your vacation or your free weekend. Give until it hurts, give in sacrifice, give in love, give regardless of the worth of the applicant, give whether you’re going to get a new congregant or not, give when you have it, give when you don’t have it — and then give the rest to God and let him sort it out.

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18 responses to “Where were the Christians?

  1. It's just a web site man!

    I think you make some good points. I think as Christians, we need to be inclusive not exclusive. In many cases, we are judgmental, and we forget that it is not our place to judge, that belongs to God. While I do not believe in expanding welfare, I do believe in lovingly putting those people in a position where they can fend for themselves, and we are lacking in that area as a country. Thanks for you post!

    http://ginzotalk.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/115/

  2. Wonderful. Thank you for articulating what I feel and believe.

  3. This is brilliant. Thank you for writing this on this election day. I am also an un-conservative Christian– I identify as an independent– and often we get lost in the crowd and in the shouting. I am always happy to see other voices speak up.

  4. This agnostic loves what you have to say and is proud to be your friend! 🙂

  5. I don’t have words, but I think you hit it right on the money.

  6. Good post!
    (And I can tell you that Canada IS blessed!) (I don’t know about Sweeden or France though.)
    Your politics are different than ours so I can’t really say much about that but agree with you that prayer for our leaders is paramount, as is giving to the poor.
    Wooo-hoooo!

    • I believe they are, too. I get so tired of hearing that if we’re more like Canada, that the country is somehow going to hell and will be destroyed… I don’t think God hates Canada.

  7. “They were deciding between the deserving poor and the undeserving poor.”

    Whoa, this is powerful and sobering thought. Great thoughts here, Kristin.

    • I think it’s our nature to want to help people we see as like us, we transfer our attributions to them. I hope I can keep from doing that, though, because we’re all individual and everyone is fighting some pretty big battles.

  8. I have wrestled with this issue in a couple installments on my blog and appreciate the way you addressed it. The problems of human society will with us till the end and in the absence of the perfect obedience to Jesus wrought in love those who attempt to do “good” en-mass will always trample the wills of others.

    George Washington said “Making voluntary sacrifice the operative principle of a republican government has proved to be a romantic delusion both individual citizens and sovereign states require coercion to behave responsibly”.

    This, apparently, is our future but make no mistake it will bring another fresh round of abuse, suffering, corruption, and selfishness as we rediscover anew that, in the words of Malcolm Muggeridge: “News is only old things happening to new people”.

    I’m beginning to think that whether or not we remember the lessons of history it makes no difference; the cycle continues. We’ve had our day in the sun as a society, dawn is upon us. Fortunately light, no matter how small, shines more brightly in the dark; of course this too has been a repetitive cycle across the expanse of time thus we take our place within the struggle of mankind.

    When we met some 25 years ago my wife was a single mom with one child on public assistance. She hated the trap that “the system” place her into. So even though her immediate needs were taken care of she felt the she was trading of parts of her soul, her humanity, to stay there. It was a trap for her. In the end we risk losing the humanity that Jesus graced us with either way. That seems our struggle, to retain our humanity and our souls as we travel these roads together.

    Regards,
    Mark

  9. Pingback: When a blogger loves words… | Messiah Mom

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