Yesterday I sat with a 21-year-old mother that has an 8-year-old son though incest. Although this mom is working so hard to beat the system and rise above – she is down on her luck right now. When I got in the car, I wept, I swore, I cried out. My heart was so broken for the 12-year-old girl she was when she got pregnant and I wondered who had ever cried for her. All those years of abuse, did anyone love her enough to shed a tear?
Then I get home and I’m scrolling through Facebook and I read the above cartoon. On any other day I wouldn’t have even thought about it, but yesterday, it made me cry again. All I could think about was this young woman, her struggles, her pain, her dreams, while in contrast there are millions of people with so much to spare who don’t want to “share their candy” and consider her lazy.
Please, this is not a welfare post. Welfare is a broken system. I know that. It needs massive reform. People abuse it. I’m fully educated on all its problems. About five years ago the house next to me became a rental and a family moved in that had nicer cars then I did, newer clothes, more disposable income. They remained unmarried, leased cars, and kept all property in the father’s name so the mom could still receive full welfare funding. Shameful.
Again, this is not a welfare post, but rather this is a post to the church. To the body of Christ.
RISE UP CHURCH.
Prior to the 20th century, the church was on the front lines, ministering to the poor. Not just economically poor, but the mentally, socially, spiritually poor as well. Then a debate began about the fundamental tenets fo Christianity. Evangelicals did not see a connection between humanitarian efforts and bringing Christ’s kingdom. Steve Corbett in When Helping Hurts writes “As Evangelicals tried to distance themselves from the social gospel movement, they ended up in large-scale retreat from the front lines of poverty alleviation. This shift away from the poor was so dramatic that church historians refer to the 1900- 1930 era as the “Great Reversal” in the evangelical church’s approach to social problems.”
You know what began in the 1930’s? Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Welfare. When the church did what it was called to do, the government didn’t need to step in. We are so far from that church.
I grew up without a lot of money in small town Iowa. I knew people with food stamps. My grandma got free government cheese. It’s not bad.
Again, this is rise up church post. I look at the church in Acts and how no one went without because they all shared and I long for a world like that. Where we as “blessed” Christians live a little less “blessed” in order for the least of these to have more. I use the term blessed lightly, because people tend to throw that word around as if to imply that wealth is how God blesses. It’s not. Being chosen to cross paths with one of God’s children who was abused and then to be the one that cries for her, that is a blessing from God.
Keep in mind, I am a hypocrite. Completely. I now live in Tinley Park and I have to make an effort to look for people who live with the daily struggles of buying food. Sometimes I hate it. It brings a burden upon my life and my children and I am exhausted by the pain and suffering of other people. Exhausted. I want to quit. Part of me wants to light my fireplace, pour a glass of wine, and think nothing of those outside of my home. Part of me doesn’t want to give to the point where I have to make a sacrifice. I want granite counter tops, hardwood floors in the bedrooms, a new van.
But more than wanting those things, I want to live like the bible tells me to live. Because it’s better. Jesus says it is. So life is a about living in the middle. Battling my wants against God’s calling. Choosing not to judge anyone, even when my mind is full of prejudices. Understanding I am a hypocrite and fighting it until I die.
Somedays I don’t see it. Carrying the weight of another human’s pain doesn’t fee like a blessing. But it is. The connection to a human life is the best gift we could ever be given.
Rise up church.