Friday, February 09, 2007

They Just Don't Get It?

I have written quite a few posts on the issue of being poor and it seems a lot of people don't get it - this idea seems to be quite foreign to many a believer in Jesus. I didn't think this was such a hard thing to understand but it seems a lot of people can't believe that Jesus came to help the poor. Here is what I recently wrote to sum up my position:

"We all personally read Jesus as someone that died for us (singular and plural) to pay for our sins (a propitiation). Were we worthy of that? Did we do something to deserve this great gift (salvation)? You mean we just got the greatest gift of all time for free - and did nothing to deserve it? Now go and look on the poor the same way." (SVS)

That is quite simply my position on the gospel, on the grace of God, and the core components of this faith. Am I that off?

I see a lot of people that believe the first part of that quote and are quite happy to 'say so'. Congratulations, me too. But I'll be damned first if this gospel is all about me and my personal happiness in a selfish world. I mean if that is the case - then what 'good' is the gospel? I can personally say he 'saved me' from a life of degradation...so. Is that the end of the story? Did you die at that point (I heard some say yes as they read this)? As long as I am happy and comfortable in my little home - then all is well in the world? Smacks of tainted love if you ask me.

I mean the atheists are putting up a good bunch of criticism about this faith - and you know what - for about 75% of it - they are right. Yet we keep on badgering them with all of our BS about 'me me me' and 'him him him' - yet we have little to show the truly broken in society that just sit and never hear this BS (thankfully). I think there is a 3rd class in this discussion we all have about our faith - and I say it is in doing something 'right by them'. Are the poor my God? You might think so how much I babble about my own grumblings.

In a few days from now I will have the chance to talk with 39 churches in my city (Evangelical) and they are going to discuss 'how to help the poor in our city'? I am going to present them with these crazy ideas I have about the gospel and my 'Action Group' ministry. Now you would think the idea of helping the poor with developing programs and raising money for this will be of utter importance at this service - but I have to doubt it...we might be too damn selfish to care. I hope they kill me at this point, I think I might have too much bitterness to handle after that show of callousness.

I will renounce my faith after that day if I see very little support for the idea of 'caring' - about the poor mind you - who actually could use our paradigm. I find no use for a faith that treats themselves better than the poor - sorry - it seems like a total betrayal of the words of Jesus.

Hey Judas, you only made 30 silver coins for selling my Lord out? Idiot. They sell bibles for more than that.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Society,

I hope I didn't upset you with what I said. I just wanted to say, I've been poor like that. I was in the fith grade before I had a new dress. We couldn't afford shampoo or bath soap and used Tide to wash ourselves as well as our clothes. We basically ate pinto beans, K-ro syrup, and cornbread but my parents were drunk every day. If I was sick, and I was often sick, I was treated with alcohol. I don't remember ever not knowing what alchohol tasted like. I was abused and responded by abusing myself with drugs. Sure I would have like kindness though I really don't know if I would have trusted I. I really didn't trust anyone and was not trust worthy. I used to call churches and beg them for money, anything to support my drug habit. It was Jesus Who changed me and changed my life.

By none of this do I wish to degrade your desire to reach out to the downtrodden. If that is God's call on your life, I don't judge you. The Bible says that true religion is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted by the world. God seems to have called you to minister to these and all I can say is, God Speed and God's blesssings in accomplishing His Will through your life and to those that He has sent you to.

Pam

BrotherKen said...

Hey society. You go and speak to them. I would stand with you all the way (and will in spirit). But, hey guy, I hope this talk about renouncing you faith is just talk in anger. The truth will always be the truth. Jesus saved us but he didn't promise to fix everything and make it easy for us. I pray that you will be encouraged at the meeting, but I pray moreover for you to find a peace with what you are able to do for those who so desperately need what we waste, may God forgive me.

BrotherKen said...

Pam, I just caught up in what you were saying. I agree with all of it, and I am glad to hear all that Jesus has done for you. I would say though that I believe that Society is one of few I know that have the correct primary focus. The caring of the poor should be job number one for the Christian. Yes, we hope to to be able to share God's word with them, but I believe (and few agree with me) that only God can turn the heart of a person toward himself. As people like Society show love and caring to those that few will give a second thought about, people like yourself will be brought into a relationship with God. I expect you know all this, I just wanted to give the effort to our personal caring the priority it should have. If we failed to care for the personal needs of others, we fail as a witness to the love of God.

chris said...

Jason, you are taking a very hard path. In fact, it is the same path that our Savior took, and he was crucified! You don't need to renounce your faith. I believe your persoanl faith it strong. No! renounce their version of the faith! I am with you in my prayers, brother! I admire and respect you for your dedication to your fellow man. Don't give up!

SocietyVs said...

Pam I am not upset at the things you say or the things you write at all - I actually think you are a great person - I have no ill will towards anyone on the blog-a-sphere - all I am doing is making a point (oh how I admire Lennon and movements like 'bed-peace').

"The Bible says that true religion is to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted by the world. God seems to have called you to minister to these" (Pam)

No, God has called us all to do this - I notice you pulled that little tidbit out of the book of James - which is in the bible - the same book we all read and build our paradigm from...how can God call me more than he calls anyone else? Unless we don't want 'true/real' religion/faith?

And Pam that is exactly my point - how come someone has to be 'called' to do this? It is in the written words we read everyday - in Matthew, In James, in Paul's letters, In Luke, - it's practically all over the New Testament and is even one of the beatitudes. I ain't been called to nothing more than reading that text like everyone else. No voice from heaven, no angelic vision, no Daniel-esque dream, no Moses burning bush, no transfiguration, no whale to swallow me up, no sign of wonder (like a star), not even a still small voice. I just opened a book about a man named Jesus from Nazareth, and this is what I found. Now that's the sobering and honest truth.

**well actually once upon a time there was still small voice and he said 5 words to me - but that was 'all those years ago' - and that moment changed my life. I guess that's similar to Daniel's writing on the wall. But that's neither here nor there.

Anonymous said...

brotherken,

I don't think Christians should be mean to people or turn anyone in need away but I don't think God calls all of us to the same ministry. I didn't come to Christ because of anything that a Christian did other than tell me about Christ and it was really the Holy Spirit who opened my eyes to Jesus and to my need for him. I guess I view my faith as walking in the Spirit and surrendering to Him moment by moment in whatever He would have me do or say. Jesus said that the poor will always be with us but I think Jesus loved the rich man too. We are all created for God and none of us can be truly happy whether we are rich or poor when we are living in blindness to Him.

Again, I would not tell society what God has called him to do.

Pam

SocietyVs said...

Pam and Ken and Chris, thanks for the encouragement - I really enjoy the blog-a-sphere and it's always helpful when people like you say kind words - it's made my morning. Just remember - it's all a conversation piece on my blog and sometimes I invest my emotions into it - but what writer doesn't...and sometimes I come of a tad on the harsh side - this is all true about me. Forgive me, for I know not what it is I am doing.

Jim Jordan said...

Hi Jason
You have another profound debate going on. Pam and Ken's observations are very encouraging. My 2 cents.
#1 - You are not alone in this blog or in this world when it comes to wanting to change the lives of the poor for the better. I had a negative income year last year but I managed to eek out the same support for our local soup kitchen and other charities as prior years.
#2 - I see your mission as one of providing a ministry of caring but also of shining a light on terrible social conditions. Everyone here likes to point out how functional Canada is and how dysfunctional we are. The truth is that the whole world is dysfunctional and there is a dire need for outreach in the Regina area.
#3 - James wrote on how our faith is revealed in our actions, hence the "true religion" point. He was not saying that the only fruit of religion is helping widows and orphans. If that were true, my service as Bible teacher to children is misdirected. We would have to abandon all ministries that weren't about relieving poverty. Long story short, he was saying that the fruit and the vine belong to the same plant. Faith without works is dead. In other words, rotten fruit, bad vine.
#4 - The fact that nearly all wealthy folks enjoy their opulence and waste money on frivolous things is appalling. But it is in our message that we must cause them to understand that their riches are merely moneys on loan from God. That should be an important focus of your ministry.
#5 - Last (I promise, Paul said "Be anxious for nothing". We must always know that God is in control. Bringing others into communion with Him is the greatest challenge thus Jesus' reference "you will always have the poor, but you won't always have me." From the Savior's mouth we hear that if our goal is to eradicate poverty, we will fail. Even if we are very successful, many will fall through the cracks in our broken society. We are called to be patient, to be still, and let the Spirit guide us. Impatience drives that Spirit away. It's the same sin that Adam and Eve committed; in seeking the ultimate knowledge of good and evil, they became evil. Only God is good.

Sorry, that's 5 cents.

BrotherKen said...

Excellent stuff here, I wee a bunch on people with a desire for a greater reality of godliness. We each may have a different slant on it but we all recognize the requirement to be a servant (caregiver of some sort) to the needy. I for one will not say I have a better truth than the next person, but I pray that others will see in me a desire to follow complete truth, unto true sacrifice.

My Garden said...

If you really took the stance that you would renounce your faith then how will that change the world. You said that Mandela is someone you looked up to as a hero...have you read his book, how long did it take to change his nation. Mandela brought change, and that change is still taking place and may take a few generations before the healing reaches through to change the landscape of the day in the hearts of men and his land, but the reality is that if he didn't have a commitment then he would not have birthed the change in the first place. I have someone in my life that thinks I should give up, but if I give up then I am giving a legacy to the one I love that will be something that I can't live with ...my loved one is worth the work it is going to take...it is not an instant change...this generation is used to "instant things" and we live here at so much ease that it is easy to forget people in need. I am working in the hardest area that I have had to work in for a long time (family services) and it reminds me everyday why I need to give, to do better, and to keep going...even if, I don't see immediate change and a payoff that would propel me forward when the going gets tough, but I see things that are happening that will bring change, and when it is complete it will be better than what I could have done...if you go in thinking it is your burden then you won't be able to let God by His Spirit work on the hearts of men when you talk...it is a work that cannot be done by men (yes you are a mouthpiece) but the work in the hearts of men is not done on the outside, consider the words conviction, inspire, motivate, and encourage...these are what you can do with words, but God is the one who has to plant things in the heart of men to keep something going...it may bloom only for a day if it done by the hand of men, but if done by God then it will be propelled by something greater than you and then you will see a multiplacation of something that was birthe in your heart. I did the same thing with the youth once, and I knew that if this seed were something that grew up in these youth then it would change their lives from being something self-involved and/or selfish...take it as a step to be heard, and the more you are heard, the longer the seed has a chance to grow and take root, so that your vision can spread...mmm...my two cents

SocietyVs said...

Jim, Ken, and mygarden - thanks for the posts you put down - excellent stuff. I think mygarden said a few things that resonate with me - first off, patience. I am quite impatient - this I see quite clearly. Thanks mygarden - I am that kind of person that prefers a slap over a kind word - and you managed a little of both - much appreciated.

kevin beck said...

I think you might find an ally in Sask in my friend Jim. You can find his site here. http://www.jim.theburrs.ca/

the_burning_bush said...

A lot of good points in this thread. We are required to be generous to the poor, as SocietyVs says, but Jesus did not create the Church (primarily) to help the poor.

"I think there is a 3rd class in this discussion we all have about our faith - and I say it is in doing something 'right by them'."

As Christians we are called to treat our neighbor the way we would prefer to be treated -which is not necessarily the way our neighbor wants to be treated. Would I want some help if I were poor? Certainly. But more importantly, I believe the best thing for me would be Jesus. Getting the poor's approval is misleading and irrelevant to the calling that has been given to the Church. Paul writes in Galations that we are either striving to please God or striving to please men.

SocietyVs: you have an intensity and adversion to smugness and attachment. This is necessary to be a radical.

Remember that the discipleship Christ calls us to must be free from all external circumstances and the choices of other people. It must be based solidly on that still, small voice inside you which is easy to overlook.

SocietyVs said...

"It must be based solidly on that still, small voice inside you which is easy to overlook." (BB)

Point noted BB. I agree.

"I believe the best thing for me would be Jesus." (BB)

Oh I am not denying this - but even the poor want to hear this message and what message are we currently sending them about 'Jesus' (I do believe this name should not become 'vain'). I think this is more the point I am trying to make - that we represent Jesus as members of the body of Christ - and what message are the people that desire our faith get? It's interesting to say the least.

But BB I know what your are pointing to and I accept the faith on all accounts and that Jesus is the centre of that faith (and I also would accept nothing less). I am merely pointing the fact the church needs some direction in their 'helping others out' - I am trying to provide an answer (of some sort). I wanna provide those church-goers with a great reason to have joy, love, patience, concern, hope, etc...and a lot of times it is found in seeing 'the least of these' find a partnership with the church - a friendship if you will. I think the hands and feet of the church best know this type of info. Apparently a lot of church folk are losing a reason to be in the church at all.