Thursday, December 27, 2007

What Now?

Are you tired yet of my blogging about helping the homeless for one weekend? Are you tired of hearing how there are so many needy people in Omaha?

I get tired, too. But then I see double personalities rising within me. One that knows I should be helping others, and diving into their lives, and the other which sees the commercial with the little malnourished children and changes the channel apathetically. One side says, "Go and give of your time. It's the very least you can do!" while the other side argues, "You don't have any money, and you're not a person of great importance, so what difference can you really make?"

Shane Claiborne's book has been really challenging me lately. Here is a small excerpt:

"Popular culture has taught us to believe that charity is a virtue. But for Christians, it is only what is expected. True generosity is measured not by how much we give away but by how much we have left, especially when we look at the needs of our neighbors...

The early Christians used to write that when they did not have enough food for the hungry people at their door, the entire community would fast until everyone could share a meal together... The early Christians said that if a child starves while a Christian has extra food, then the Christian is guilty of murder."

If you're like me, you might say something like, "Yeah, but I don't really know any homeless people or folks that are hungry."

But I'll bet you know exactly where to find them. (I do!)

And I'm writing this during the Christmas season, when it becomes painfully obvious which folks are the "haves" and which are the "have-nots." I can tell just by taking a walk and peeking at the trash who received a new iPod nano. I've even seen a couple of cars that don't yet have license plates that might have been a Christmas gift. Even I received some CDs and DVDs, while there are some people who would be happy for a fancy Christmas dinner...or just having a family to eat it with.

I don't know where I'm going with this blog. Maybe I don't have to need a direction. Maybe it just needs to be said. We're very blessed, and maybe part of Christ's call is seek social justice in our neighborhoods and cities, making sure the blessed are sharing with the poor and not hoarding.

But living that ideal and talking about it are two very different things...


Anonymous said...

My recollection is the first century disciples of Christ took care of the widows and fatherless children within the body of Christ. This puts actually helping those within the body of Christ first and foremost. As disciples of Christ we are the caretakers of our brothers and sisters in Christ ahead of everyone else. We are commanded to love others, yes, but to exercise that love within the faith first. We are free to exercise love in every fullness outside the faith when the needs of the body of Christ are met.

One Observationist said...

Franklin - I have read all of your volunteer posts and would really like to get together sometime to talk with you about them in person.

Isn't it sad that we don't know what to do?

I am often reminded of what James (my favorite book) said, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and keep oneself unspotted from the world."

I thought of this passage as you posted your blog entries. And I thought about whether or not my religion is defiled because of my lack of charity work.

Oh, and Ruth, James is talking about orphans and widows in a general term which means it may include those that are not Christians. In fact, Jesus was notorious for helping those that were not his followers.

Anyway, great posts Franklin. Wish I could have been there with you and I'm looking forward to talking with you more about your experiences.


Franklin Wood said...

Ruth, thank you for your comment! I agree that we are supposed to take care of those within the body of Christ. After all, the Bible says that the world will know us "by our love."

However, several questions come up in my Bible study and thinking...

1. Are there churches where some are living in poverty while others are "living it up?" (I don't think we are fulfilling this command very well! I know that sometimes I am struggling to pay medical bills while others are taking nice vacations! But I am not without guilt either! There are times I get to have things or do things and others are struggling!) So, if we are to start in our churches, we'd better really get started, and quit "talking about it!"

2. Did Jesus just help those who were believers? In Mark 2:17, Jesus told some religious skeptics, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." I think helping others (who are NOT members of the Lord's church) is a way of proving Christ's love to the world.

There are many other verses I could quote, but it is obvious you are also a student of God's Word, so I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to say!
Again, thank you for your comment and your thoughts as we continue to grow in Christ together, and become His hands and feet here on earth!