Friday, September 23, 2005

Modern Christian Ethic, Take 2

It has been pointed out to me that I overlooked something in my "A Modern Christian Ethic" post, namely the all too common response towards the impoverished. While frequent generations of Christians felt compelled to minister to those in poverty, our modern response is to let the government undertake such charitable work...and then to complain that the government should not be in the business of charitable work.

I argued that the disdain for the poor that I had heard expressed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina came mostly from unbelievers; however, not everyone agrees with me. Christians are, at least some of them, too quick to behave with prejudice towards the poor. This, sadly, is not just a modern problem. Even in the New Testament church, believers had to be admonished not to give preferential treatment to the wealthy over the poor.

The words of Jesus can either commend us or condemn us, "I was hungry and you fed me...naked and you clothed me..." Certainly many in the church have reacted with extreme generosity to the overwhelming needs we see every time we turn on the TV of late. But, as it was pointed out to me, are we really supposed to depend on the government to do the work we should have been doing for years? Are we going to keep up the generosity as long as the need is there, or are we going to become weary in well-doing?

3 comments:

  1. "Christians are, at least some of them, too quick to behave with prejudice towards the poor."

    What's a shame is the Christians who are prejudiced would never admit it. What stinks is they need to be confronted. That's a situation where you might have to take of the kid gloves and do some shaking in order to get a person to realize how reprehensible their actions are... or even how reprehensible their life is.

    I see all the time good "Christian" folk living in million dollar homes, wearing Polo Ralph Lauren, driving Mercedes Benz and Lincoln cars and SUVs, carrying their cell phones, eating at nice restaurants, having 6 or 7 kids, etc, etc, etc.

    How can people properly associate with the poor if they live such a contrasting lifestyle? When you spend gobs of money on yourself/your family you don't know what it's like to be broke, to live humbly, to care more about others than yourself. The worldly possessions that can be acquired with more money can help a person grow more distant between them and the poor.

    But what if as Christians we gave away much of our money to help others? What if we had less or no children at all because that money to raise one child can help an innumerably amount of others who have next to nothing at all in their lives? Or should we count on the government to help them all? But wait, if we count on the government to help everyone then we as Christian could kick back and enjoy our money without helping anyone at all... YAYYYY!!! No, that's not right. We should be doing the government's job by using the money we don't need to help others who have nothing. We should be helping them somehow get on their feet and into a life where they can make money to in turn help others and so on. Govenment, theoretically, shouldn't be needed. What also should not be needed by Christians is plasma TV's and DVD collection of 500 movies. We don't need BMW's or Cadillacs. We don't need fancy homes worth over $500,000 with manicured lawns and people who come to clean the pool once a week. We don't need to send 3 or 4 kids to college spending perhaps a million dollars on them alone with a million dollars could save thousands of childrens' lives who have no food or clean water or simple medications.

    Sadly, too many Christians just don't get it. Love Christ, yes. That's good. Help others, yes, what little we can. Some of only can help a little and if a little is all some can help then that is better than no help at all. But too many others truly can help A LOT if they simply choose to strip down their lives some and Live Simply. Live a simple, Christian life and truly be God's Hands doing the work of Christ. How much more admirable is that than living in a $750,000 home with closets full of expensive clothes and a nice new boat docked down at the lake?

    The government is needed to help those less fortunate... but it shouldn't be if more Christians really wanted to live a truly Christ-like life.

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  2. Clearly CW does not live in California where even my pastor lives in a $500k home. In our area you cannot touch a family home that is in habitable shape under $500k. A four bedroom 2 bath house on 1 acre with only a partially landscaped yard down the street from us sold for close to $800k. Many Christians are required by their jobs to have cell phones on them at all times. I am a college student and I have a cell phone so my elderly grandparents, who I live with, can contact me in the case of an emergancy. The $40 I pay a month is worth the fact that they never have to worry when I am not home by Eleven at night due to a lab running late and traffic on the 91 freeway. My uncle drives a BMW roadster around. You might not know this if you go to church with him but he happens to work for BMW and thus is paying less for his car then many others for their Hondas and Toyotas.
    You might see me walking around campus wearing my designer shirts. Everyone of those shirts were bought on sale for less or the same as it would have cost for an inferior quality shirt at a department store. I am able to get a good product that will last a long time for a good price enabling me to save even more money over the long haul.
    I am not even going to touch your point against having more then one or two children. Those types of decisions as well as how we spend our money should be between the individual and God. There are some people who never go out to eat but drive a Lincoln. There are others who would feel that for them it would be wrong to own a Lincoln but they go to Starbucks several times a week. Judge not yet you be also judged is what the scripture says.
    While we are on scripture let us not forget Jesus' example. He allowed the use of expensive perfume, that is beyond any perfume that I know of today, poured over his feet. He rebuked those who judged the stewardship of that act. Jesus also wore quite an expensive outfit as well. It was a one piece suit that was their days equivalant to designer clothing when you are talking about price. And I am not talking about Polo Ralph Lauren type pricing but much more expensive.

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  3. My response is much more direct. I stand at the entrance to a county fair and jingle a cup for change to help mentally-retarded kids. Know who puts money in the cup? People who appear not to be able to afford it. Know who turns their nose and walk on by? Yeah, you guessed it. Oh, and the supermarket that is not going to allow us to collect money for charity anymore - because we're...sniff...Catholic.

    Rah, rah, for Christianity - all flavors.

    http://www.growlery.com/wigwam/2005/09/operation-lamb.html

    I don't care what kind of car you drive or house you own. Put a quarter in my cup, you.

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