There are always those that must have someone to look down on. That’s not new or news. And we all know that the poor are mostly powerless to defend themselves. That makes them the target of choice for a variety of social ills.
Having voluntarily lived in poverty, myself, and have worked with and walked along side the poor of the world for almost five decades, I have a fairly strong understanding of their struggle. The vast majority of those living in poverty around the world consistently work harder that most of us can begin to comprehend.
The true culprit is the unadulterated greed of those of us who are wealthy beyond measure. We see unlimited wealth as a right, not a gift, and we refuse to share our abundance. Any professing Christian pointing to the poor as a problem is not believer in Jesus Christ and has certainly never met the Jesus of the Gospels.
What a wonderful illustration of the great divide. This delightful cartoon tells the story of one of my favorite quotes.
“The distance between us and the poor is the distance between us and God.”
A church that is happy and taking its ease during these times is a church that doesn’t comprehend the love of God, or the gospel of Jesus Christ. And any Christian leader that isn’t outraged at our government’s treatment of the poor and marginalized needs to wake up and pay attention.
One of the messages scrolling across the digital signboard of Forest Road United Methodist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia proclaims:
“Your life is the only Bible some people will ever read.”
Hopefully, the message those people read is one of faithfulness and love, where the grace and compassion of Christ is freely given and available to all.
I count Bishop Curry as a friend. He reflects the love of Jesus wherever he goes, and is a true saint. He is a Christian leaderI can follow. He leads with his heart, but demonstrates he knows (and is willing to pay) the cost.
His words on real love are right on, and those of us seeking to be faithful in our discipleship to Jesus Christ need to take them to heart. Real love is anything but soft and squishy. Real love is tough love, and often must be confrontational.
“[T]here remains [in some parts of the country] a strong bias towards the old error, that without some sort of alliance or coalition between Govt. & Religion neither can be duly supported. Such indeed is the tendency to such a coalition, and such its corrupting influence on both parties, that the danger cannot be too carefully guarded against.”
― James Madison, James Madison: Writings
Madison’s words are as true today as when he originally penned them almost two centuries ago. Our nation’s founders separated government and religion to guard against this “corrupting influence on both parties.”
Today we are living with the results of not defending against this old error. Madison warned us to ever guard more closely against this unholy alliance. We should have heeded his words.
Over 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump to be our country’s next president. They knowingly agreed with, and endorsed Trump’s clearly stated anti-Christian values.
This is a clear and present danger. The majority of those voting in this election claiming to follow Jesus Christ cast their vote for a lying, racist, fear-mongering, bigot. They supported a xenophobic, bullying, braggart who is the antithesis of the love of Jesus Christ reflected in the gospels.
How and why this happened should ring alarms for leaders throughout the faith community. When this large a percentage of “believers” abandon the teachings of Jesus to vote for hate and fear, it is a statement that something is drastically and critically awry.
Personally, I see this as a failure of leadership, itself. There has been a significant lack of courage to address the deep divisive issues of our society from the pulpit. Christian leaders have not led by example, and have played it safe and “made nice” rather than confront un-Christian values in our congregations.
And so now, one cannot tell the believers from the nonbelievers without a program. We have met the enemy and they are us.
History is full of unjust laws. When we know that a law is not just, Jefferson writes that we have a duty to resist that law. I have no problem with that. The question for me is how far to we go in our resistance. Are there limits to our duty to resist unjust laws?
The moral imperative to always move toward justice is clear. Standing against injustice is also demanded by my discipleship to Jesus Christ.
As a practicing Christian, my first and deepest allegiance is always to Jesus Christ. Faithfulness to the gospel demands that I respond to injustice in love.
With the election of Donald Trump this has become an existential issue for me. “When injustice becomes law, how far do I go in resisting? I think this is a question many of us are going to have to ask.
The Apostle Paul provides us with a clear and concise reminder of how we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ. These are traits that reflect God’s love, and they demonstrate a serious attempt to model our lives like our master and teacher.
If these traits are not evident in a person’s lifestyle it might be a sign of a shallow spirituality, or that there is no real depth to their discipleship. We demonstrate our faithfulness by the way we live, not by what we say.