Home > The Call to Speak out, Theological Reflections, Uncategorized > the command we don’t like to follow

the command we don’t like to follow

As those who follow my blog are aware, I pray through the prayers of the Northumbria Community through their Celtic Prayer book.

Today’s Old Testament reading was the story of the widow who had enough food for one meal when Elijah approached her and asked her to make him food and bring him water. He had words from the Lord – that she would have food and oil continuously.

A friend posted a moving depiction of this encounter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Wnq0fOQ1A2Q

What faith – to have so little, almost nothing (!) and to give it away.

Reminds me of the widow who gave everything she had – two coins – to God.

I want to be like the widow – to have generousity that is willing to freely give everything I have to God and to those around me.

I find it striking of how those who have little are often those who would give everything to help someone in need. I remember eating a meal with people who were clearly hungry – and when they found out I was a student, they offered me the last piece because they felt I needed it to help me with studying.

And we, who have so much more, are often more ‘careful’ about our money.

yesterday, a $128 MILLION cut to housing/homeless services was made to the Toronto budget.

yesterday, the government of canada announced costs of an over $45 BILLION plan for fighter jets alone for the Ministry of Defense.

THIS is completely ridiculous.

We cut services to the most vulnerable and those who have no voice. How did we become a society in which we have houses for our cars (garages), houses for our stuff (sheds), summer homes (cottages) and our residential homes when people have none, nor the resources to acquire one, nor the voice to do so?

We prepare to shed blood in other countries while people die on our own streets of a first world country due to poverty, hunger, addiction, lack of medical care and homelessness.
Besides the fact that some of these people who are affected are my friends, I am outraged. I recognize that these two budgets are different levels of government – but our priorities are most definitely screwed up in society.
What’s worse is to know that Christians back up both of these budget decisions. What’s worse is to hear from Christians how undeserving the poorest of the poor are. I recognize that, should you – my readers – be one of those Christians, then my remarks are probably inflammatory.
But no one has to justify themselves as the poor do. No one questions how the rich – the 99% of the population! – spend their money. How much money is spent on unnecessary things? Sure, God blesses us and allows us to enjoy life. But do we really honour him in our wealth? Meanwhile the poor are criticized for being lazy bums, addicts without any understanding of addiction, and are accused constantly of taking advantage of the systems in place.
To go on welfare – to receive $585 for a single person per month – you must show the welfare agent just how poor you are. Savings? use those up first. RRSPs? cash them in. I know someone who had to cash in her prepaid funeral before welfare would give her money. If you are poor, you can’t even die with dignity, let alone live with it. Try paying rent with that amount. And then eating a healthy diet, having warm clothes and paying for eye/dental care. It’s practically impossible unless you are one of the miracle people who can find housing that allows you to live under that amount or you do work under the table.

One of my all time favourite quotes comes from one of the greatest Christian singer/songwriters – Rich Mullins – who has many bold, prophetic and challenging quotes.

“You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you just have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too. But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”

Scripture is full of verses that command us to take care of the most vulnerable in society. Scripture does not tell us to give only if they are worthy of receiving, if the really are poor or in need. We like the verses that suit us. “God works all things together for the good of those who love him”. But those verses, that demand we give all of ourselves – well, it’s easier to pretend they aren’t there.

And we – like many before us – plunder the poor to maintain our wealth

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly
and when you do, have mercy upon us

for we – unlike the widows in Scripture – store up treasures for ourselves. we pass by those who are in hungry on our way to starbucks for an overpriced fancy drink. we buy fancy gadgets and clothing when those who live on the street will be cold this winter. and if we give, we give of our abundance.

Indeed, when you come Lord, have mercy upon us

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  1. December 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

    thanks for the rich mullins quote, i love him. his honesty.

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