My bible study group has been reading through the book of Matthew this past year and very appropriately we are just coming up to Jesus’s arrest and trial this week prior to Easter.
Last night a discussion began about Pontius Pilate. If you don’t know his role in this story, he was Roman governor at the time. When Jesus was arrested, he was brought before Pilate and it was Pilate’s job to discern if Jesus was innocent or guilty.
Pilate questions Jesus, asking him “Are you the king of the Jews? Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?”
Pilate knows that the Jewish leaders have arrested Jesus because they are envious of him. Pilate acknowledges that he can find no wrong against Jesus. Pilate responds with “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. As you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and release him.”
But the crowd insists upon Jesus’s crucifixion.
So Pilate takes a bowl of water and washes his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility.”
Then Pilate hands Jesus over and turns his back on the entire situation.
And here stands the debate. By turning a blind eye on the situation, one that he knew to be in error, is Pilate truly innocent?
My group responded overwhelmingly no.
But if he isn’t innocent, then don’t we need to take a look at all the times that we wash our hands of an issue and say Not my problem.
So many of us choose to walk though this life with our eyes focused in such a narrow line that our cares and concerns don’t go beyond what directly crosses our paths. And our love for those around us, and well, let’s be honest, our love for ourselves and our things, takes priority over most other concerns around the world. But should it?
People have asked me why I go overseas to adopt when there are children right here in the US that need help. I usually say that is just where God called me. And while that is true, I sometimes feel that question comes from this narrow focus of things over there should just not be our problem.
While driving around Ethiopia during our adoption of Mesfin I saw some huge vultures over the city dump. They were astounding so we stopped to take some pictures.
Then my point of view shifted and I saw this.
Yes, that woman lives at the dump. There are countless numbers of parents and children who live at that dump and scour it daily to find something to eat. We can not just wash our hands of that. She is our problem.
The crowd will insist that you worry about your own. You have enough going on right now.
When retailers like Wal Mart are consistently tied to immoral practices overseas, are we really entitled to just wash our hands of the problem so we can obtain an 88 cent box of mac and cheese?
The crowd will tell you that we deserve that low price guarantee! It’s a struggle to feed 5 growing children.
Slavery is at an all time high in our world today. There are more slaves at this moment, right now when you read this, then were ever kidnapped off the continent of Africa in the 300 plus years that travesty went on.
The crowd will tell you that is a lie.
I understand that this is a battle never to be won. I’m reading The Locust Effect right now that discusses how violence is the most painful of all issues suffered by the poor. And after every heart crushing chapter I stop and think “God, what am I supposed to do with this information?!” The systems are so broken and people’s ideals are so warped, it is beyond me to ever be able to even touch.
Yet I do know this – I am NOT allowed to just wash my hands and say Not My Problem.
The crowd will insist that you can.
So today you may not encounter someone held in slavery, nor a man perishing in prison under false arrest, nor a family that lives in a dump. But you will make small decisions about where you shop and the brands of clothing you buy that can help start a movement. You will pass a widow, or a single mom, or a lonely person and you can choose to do something about that. You could find a way to change the life of an orphan by helping someone finance an adoption. Today you can decide to look up and around, instead of in, and you can choose to care and love about all that suffer, even if you can’t see a way to change it and it is all the way “over there.”