Every once in a while I will break with common sense and delve into the reader comments on various blog posts and news stories. I don’t do it too often, as I usually find my blood pressure rising at the kinds of things I see so freely bandied about. But, then a particular story grabs my attention and throwing caution to the wind I dig in to see what others are thinking.
One such story I followed recently was a post by Lorna Dueck titled “Where is the church-led economic recovery?” I thought that the original article not only presented a welcome historical reflection on the role of the church in social ministry but also begged the question for all us Christians today … Are we doing all that we can right now? I know it is a question that is near and dear to the hearts of many good and faithful people I talk to regularly. It is a question that got me thinking deeply about how I view my role not only within the church I serve, but also within my community. I thought that such reflection and questioning would be worth continuing by looking at the comments below it. I was immediately taken aback.
What followed was a long litany of posts which did little more than vilify Christianity, and attack Christians. There was post after post full of anger and vitriol and accusation. And most of it simply for the Church’s very existence. There was little or no discussion of what the church was or wasn’t doing to help in times economic difficulty. There was no discussion of whether or not churches should be concerned about such things or to what degree. Just a forum for bashing religion in general and Christianity in particular.
At other times such reading may have made me angry, but this time it only made me sad. Forget asking where is the economic recovery help? Better to ask where is the love? One responder actually raised the question of why Christians should be expected to help others who are so eager to attack them. No one could be blamed for thinking this is a valid question, when hurt people naturally respond by withdrawing. But this isn’t love either.
And it’s not what we Christians do. We continue to help, we continue to give, we continue to think of others even when threatened attacked and slandered. I know many non-Christians who are more than willing to help out friends and family in times of need. I know some who even go the extra mile and help out those they don’t know. But the only people I know who are willing to help those who are dangerous, antagonistic, or confrontational are dear Christians.
Time and again I have freely given money to those who were most likely using me. I have helped those who were obviously trying to play the system. I have given my time, my food, my care, and my prayers to those who likely will never truly appreciate it. I have gone the extra step of buying a carton of milk for someone who was actually yelling at me while I gave him food from my own kitchen. And I would willingly do it again … will do it again. And I’m not alone. I personally know hundreds of others who have looked danger in the face and given of themselves anyway … swallowed the insults and the abuse and offered kindness in return … gone without so someone else might have instead.
And this, it seems to me is what our country and its people truly need. If there is going to be a real and lasting recovery it will not be through any church sponsored programs for getting through tough economic times, but more one-to-one personal displays of the one thing truly lacking in our culture and society today. Love. Self-denying, sacrificial love. Love for those who deserve it. Even greater love for those who do not. And perhaps the greatest of our love and concern for those who do not want it (or us) in their life. The kind of love that Jesus showed for the loveless (like you and me), in that while we were yet sinners He died for us.
I look forward to reading your comments!