Thursday, November 08, 2007

Our Faith Needs Some More Work(s)

This morning I listened to a story on public radio about a couple of women who had encounters with different presidential candidates. One of the women went to a rally for Barak Obama in hopes of speaking to him. From the story:

Punteney has faced much tragedy. One of her brothers was burned as a boy in a Fourth of July fireworks accident and later died. Her brother, as she told Obama, has late-stage cancer. Her father died recently. Her mother has not been well. Punteney said she cries a lot.

A few weeks ago, at the home in Oelwein, Iowa, she shares with her mother, Punteney said she'd been inspired to see Obama when he came to the area.

"I'd seen the commercials," she said. "And he just seemed sincere, like he's for people like my mom, my brother and me."

Many people feel politicians may not be the first place to turn when in dire need of help. But Punteney said she was confident Obama could do something to make her feel better.

"I never had anyone pay attention to me and my needs — and he held my hand," she said.

When I heard this I was reminded of all the people who followed after Jesus because they had no hope, because they needed something that no one else could, or would, give them. This woman sought comfort and relief from a political leader much the same way that people in Jesus’s day sought him out, hoping that he would bring them comfort and relief, hoping that he would bring about a political revolution and change society for the better. What a shame that two thousand years after Jesus came and taught people how to love each other that we still have people who feel the need to seek help and relief for their daily needs from a politician. It is obvious that the church is failing in its directive to feed Jesus’s sheep.

Obama told the woman that he was working to bring health insurance to all people, and then he said to her, "Tell your brother we're thinking of him. Maybe I'll write him a note before you leave today."

I realize that Obama is a busy man and that he can’t respond to every single request for help; however, his reply reminded me of the passage from James 2.15-16: If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Those of us who call ourselves members of Christ’s church must do more than wish others well; we must do what we can to help make their lives better. We are called to go out of our way and sacrifice our own wants to help those who need it.

I read another story this morning that is indicative of Christians’ lack of response to those in need:

When the first snow falls this winter, 61-year-old Grace Murphy won't be turning on the heat in her Dorchester, Massachussetts home.

With her heating oil tank at empty, she'll be huddled around her gas oven with her husband Paul, 66, and her 88-year old mother.

"I don't buy heating oil because I can't afford to," Murphy said.


In Murphy's case, spending on heating oil will mean cutting back on medical expenses, and trimming down an already slim food budget. Murphy, a diabetic, has spent months without taking her medication.

How can those of us who have more than enough tolerate knowing that others are skipping meals and struggling to keep warm?

I recently heard the results of an annual poll that asks consumers to estimate the amount of money they plan to spend this year on Christmas gifts. The average number this year is $909, up from last year’s figure. I know people who will spend hundreds of dollars this year on Christmas gifts for their children, children who received hundreds of dollars worth of gifts last year. What would happen if Instead of spending $500 on toys that the child will get tired of in two weeks, every family were to spend that money on helping someone pay a heating bill or doctor bill, or helping to stock that person’s pantry?

I think if we did this, we would be much, much closer to the kingdom that Jesus promised to his followers.


jettybetty said...

I am with you--where do I mail my check?

JMG said...

My mailing address is...