The Church & Its Mandate
A friend of mine was in town for spring break a few weeks ago and while we were catching up with each other, we got onto a great conversation about The Church — it didn’t start out that way, but that’s where we ended up. Truthfully, I’ve been mulling it over for weeks and it’s been very challenging to say the least.
Let me give you some contexts. We started talking about Bernie Sanders and his political views — many say he is a socialist, although that is not how he describes himself.
As my friend was talking I began to realize that, in my friend’s generation (Millennial), it seems there is a distrust that the rich will only hoard their money for themselves, while the poor will continue to live in abysmal conditions. Some would say why should that CEO or basketball player make that much money. Do you really need to make $25 million a year? Does anyone really need that much money? And so, for some, their solution is to tax the rich to pay for welfare for the poor.
This creates a dilemma for me because my heart is always balancing my normally fiscally conservative ideals with my passion for justice. It’s a moral tightrope my heart constantly walks on.
So, being Christians, what are we supposed to do? What is God saying to us? I have no interest in jumping into a political debate about taxes, or other political issues — I’ll save that for Fox & CNN. What I am interested in is The Church’s response to God’s mandate to us concerning the poor, the widows, and the orphans.
Really quick — here’s a reminder of a few things God’s word says about these three groups:
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Yes, speak up and judge fairly…defend the rights of the poor and needy. — Proverbs 31:8-9
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you. — Proverbs 3:27-28
Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. — Proverbs 21:13
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. — James 1:27
So God has given us a mandate to look after the poor, the widow and the orphan. But we don’t believe people will be morally responsible with their money (some would say). So our solution is to tax the rich — because we can’t trust them to give of their wealth towards looking out for those who are financially less fortunate. The thought is that while some are suffering, the rich are hoarding their money, spending it frivolously.
And this distrust goes beyond the individual; we are beginning to become distrusting and cynical at The Church. And therein lies the problem. We view the church as an institution. As a building. As a 501c3. If you are a Christ follower and say you distrust the church, you are saying you distrust yourself. You are The Church. I am The Church. It’s those who call themselves followers of Jesus that comprise God’s Church. You ask yourself, “Why isn’t God doing anything? If He is such a compassionate God why does he allow these bad things to exist?” You might even have thoughts that the church is corrupt or at least extremely off-target.
I see it differently. I see God doing something about it. I see him turning the tide. And He’s doing it through you. Yes, you! That’s His plan. This whole time you’ve been disillusioned by The Church’s seemingly apathetic disposition towards social injustices, God was planting the seed of holy discontent in you. You are His plan! He is raising up people who are not content with The Church’s current response towards important social issues or sharing Jesus’ love.
So what are you (& I) going to do about it? Despite some of the negative things that have been said about millennials, one of the great things about them is their deep concern for social justice. God is inspiring fresh voices with new and creative ideas to not only reach those who have never heard about Jesus, but solve many of the major social issues that face us today.
Maybe you will go on a missions trip. Join a service project. Maybe you will begin to live on less money so you can give more away. And maybe you, yes YOU will be the person with a great solution to a justice issue plaguing our world. Maybe YOU will be the one just crazy enough to think God can do amazing things through a surrendered life who has a holy discontent for someone else’s problem. Maybe you will be the one to stir hearts from apathy to passion.
The question is: how will you respond? How will I respond?
Will we read this blog and think that was great, but not for me. Or will we read this blog and think that was great and then go on about life without change. OR, will we read this blog and think, that was great and slowly but surely let the change in — loosening our grip on what we think is important so we can hold on to what is important. Will we begin to see ourselves as The Church — ambassadors for the Living God, whose compassion for His creation is greater than we could ever comprehend?
Will we begin to see The Church as the solution to the problem and not the obstacle? Yes, we have issues, for sure. We are far from perfect. But we are God’s plan. He has heard the crying of the destitute, depressed, hurting, and hungry. His compassion has been ignited. His plan was set into motion when he created you! All that’s left to do is let your love for God, love for His people and your discerning heart lead you — one…foot…in front…of…the other.
Let’s start a discussion on what we can do…comment below!
If you’d prefer a more musical way of saying this check out this song:
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