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Christians not caring about poverty

In general, we Christians are too nice.  We often don’t say what we’re thinking, preferring not to offend anyone.  And that’s one of the things I like about Tom Davis – he’s not afraid to call out Christians.   He calls ’em like he sees ’em.  And, he puts his money where his m…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
In general, we Christians are too nice.  We often don’t say what we’re thinking, preferring not to offend anyone.  And that’s one of the things I like about Tom Davis – he’s not afraid to call out Christians.   He calls ’em like he sees ’em.  And, he puts his money where his mouth is as an advocate for orphans around the world.  Here’s an article he wrote on Beliefnet that is coming out later this week. His point: Christians need to care about the things that Jesus cares about. 
 

Each Sunday, millions of Christians in America gather to worship the
God who commands us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We belt out
praises to the God who tells us that “pure and undefiled religion is
caring for widows and orphans in their distress.” We kneel in pious
prayer before the Almighty God of the universe who describes Himself as
loving, gracious, merciful, and generous.

Then, we walk out
the back door of the church, step into a world in need, and proceed to
withhold the love, grace, and mercy that’s extended to us.

We
might as well give God the middle finger. Outside of a tiny minority of
Christians, we have become a self-centered group of priggish snobs.

In short, we s**k.

Before
you pick up a rock and throw it at me, think about this: I could have
used other words that aren’t as nice as “s**k.” Like “white-washed
tombs,” “brood of vipers,” “fools,” or the ever ego-inflating, “Get
behind me Satan!” Jesus used all of these choice phrases to describe
religious leaders and some of his closest of followers.

But
calling someone a white-washed tomb just doesn’t cut it anymore. “We
s**k” is a much better choice for our cultural context. Poverty s**ks.
Divorce s**ks. And, unfortunately, some Christians s**k, too.

Here are the facts:

Eighty-five
percent of young people outside the church who have had connection to
Christians believe present-day Christianity is hypocritical. Inside the
church, forty-seven percent of young people believe the same thing.

And why wouldn’t they? We’re pretty stingy with our money:

– 80 percent of the world’s evangelical wealth is in North America.
– Giving by churchgoers was higher during the Great Depression than it is today.
– Christians give an average of $13.31/week to their local church.
– Only 9 percent of “born-again” adults reported tithing in 2004.

And let’s take a peek in on our neighbors:

– More than 1 billion people live in absolute poverty.
– 500 million people are at the edge of starvation.
– 200 million children are being exploited as laborers.
– Half of the human beings on the planet live on less than $2/day.
– 1.5 billion people do not have enough money to buy food.

This
is information that anyone can collect from the Internet, just as I
did. Any reasonable person could make this simple conclusion: Most American Christians do not care about what God says in the Bible.

We pick out the scriptures we like, as if we were dining at a five-star
buffet. We conveniently ignore the scriptures that talk about caring
for the poor, giving away material possessions, and loving money.
Scriptures like:

  • Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a
    good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only
    hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the
    Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their
    plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.” (James
    1:26-27)
  • Dear friends, do you think you’ll get
    anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do
    anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really
    has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and
    half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be
    filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as
    a coat or a cup of soup-where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that
    God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? (James 2:15-17)
  • “If you have two coats, give one away,” [Jesus] said. “Do the same with your food.” (Luke 3:11)

When Christians care about their political views, what sexual
preference someone has, or their bank account more than they care about
the millions of people who die in the world because they don’t have
five dollars to buy the medicine that would cure them, something has
gone drastically wrong.

These kinds of Christians s**k.

What can we do to stop s**king? I think the answer is relatively simple. It’s found in the Bible: “Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).

 

Give
away material possessions to those in need, love the unlovely, take
care of the widow and orphan. This is not rocket science. It just takes
a heart committed to doing the things God said to do.

Christians,
listen up: People are tired of being criticized, judged, and listening
to the lip service we are so great at giving. Instead, why don’t we
commit to making the changes we can make?

Christianity needs a
renewal of the principles that made it great. It needs to be more like
Jesus-compassionate, self-sacrificial, unconditionally loving, and
caring for those who are most in need.

That kind of lifestyle allowed twelve men to change the world. It will help you change yours, too.

Comments (11)

  • Best blog in the world Seth! My favorite line: It just takes a heart committed to doing the things God said to do.

    Lord, please find me faithful and committed to what and why you have called me to!

  • seth,

    i just finished red letters by tom and i am still trying to find the words to blog about it…maybe i should just link to this post! although, i have been guilty in the recent past of not caring about the things God cares about….this book has changed me.

    it breaks my heart & makes me sick to think that i have lived so much of my life without helping those that desperately need it. it breaks my heart to know that i have been one of those christians afraid to make waves & speak what I know to be truth.

    my prayer: God give me the grace to get through this day, to show your love to all that i come in contact with. Change my heart to be like yours!

    i can’t help but feel this overwhelming sense of urgency! there is SO MUCH to do, there are so many to save, there are so many to feed & help….where do we start?

    CHURCHARISE!!

  • I wholeheartedly agree with Merideth. I too spent most of my life as a Christian focused on making myself seem good on the outside, often by putting others down. I do think the church is awakening in many parts, but I know we need to wake up more. And it needs to start more with me.

  • This is an amazingly accurate article about where we as Christians are missing it. It is both condemning and challenging. Every Christian should read this and take it to heart. Our time here is so short and we need to unite as one body to share the love of Jesus, our loving Savior!

    Thanks Tom for not being afraid to SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE!

  • Thank you for sharing the truth with us! Hopefully we can all open our eyes to see ourselves more clearly, and then learn to deny ourselves, and follow Christ.

  • There is definitely something for us all to learn here! Those of us who say, “I am not one of those s-cky Christians”, are probably most in need of this message.

    The true believer will quickly acknowledge how much more sacrifice could be made on behalf of the needy, while the false Christian will seek to justify him/herself.

    However, I would bet that true Christians give more of their time and money to helping those around them (both physically & spiritually) than any other sub-group of people in the world.

    That is not to say that there isn’t tremendous room for growth. Just because I donate more time or money than the atheist or Buddhist next door, doesn’t mean that I am doing enough.

    But in general, those who know Christ are simply doing more (a result of their faith) than those who do not know God.

  • Although I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that the world must be more compasionate (to love our neighbors as we love ourselves), I cannot understand the spiritual logic in attempting to “heal the world” in a sense via financial means by what you percieve as a sellfish American. Christians account for 27% of the world’s population (yep grabbing stats off the internet), and perhaps less than 10% live in North America. It’s not only physically impossible to assist 2 plus billion people but also the fiancial management of who gets what can be quite a cumbersome problem. If it were that easy as Christians, don’t you think we would be doing it by now? Further, it’s also a fact that many governments control their citizens by hording food and water. Are you going to carry out a military operation to free them from their power and self centered government? Are you going to pay a militia to do it? Are you going to re-elect Bush to stop the immoral justice around the Globe? Perhaps, helping those you can truly help; people who are truly in your reach should be mulled over…with the focus always being on Jesus. And who said that loving our neighbors as ourselves has to have anyting to do with finances? Just my opinion. Thanks for the blog.

  • “Christians, listen up: People are tired of being criticized, judged, and listening to the lip service we are so great at giving. ” I agree. I am too. but your article sounded like an example of what it criticizes! We have too many blogs and not enough “speaking the truth in love” face-to-face. We don’t need more editorializing pundits…we need faith lived out for the Lord and for others.

  • Joao,

    I agree, we need the face-to-face far more than the pundits. But we have to set or re-set the standard before we uphold it. The blogosphere can help us establish the standard that we must then uphold in person in the same way that any sermon or even mentoring conversation does.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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