A Christian Response to Human Need

02/21/18

I believe politics and the church should be separate.  As a pastor and church leader, I will never advocate for a particular politician or political party.  I will do this in my private life, but not in my role in the church.

 

However, I will advocate for meeting human need, as well as issues that affect our earth.  I believe that’s what Jesus did, and what he wants us to do today.  I get upset when people complain that we are putting “politics” in the church when we seek to meet human need.  How do we distinguish the difference?

 

There is no doubt that Christianity is diverse.  Those who follow Christ represent almost all of the cultures of the world, approaching life from widely divergent perspectives.  Even in our own congregation, we come from different backgrounds and experiences.  This diversity is a gift to all of us, because it enables us to broaden our view of God and to grow in our understanding of spiritual life.  We all benefit when our views are stretched beyond any particular box where we have put God.

 

It is clear from the life and teachings of Jesus that human need is paramount.  He reached out to the underprivileged and marginalized.  He fed the hungry and healed the sick.  He spoke out against the authorities who cared for their own needs rather than the needs of others.

 

In our day, human need is just as much a part of our life.  When school children are killed, when innocent civilians are killed in war, when environmental problems affect the health of many persons and endanger the future, we as followers of Christ must do something.

 

How we solve these needs is always open to debate.  One reason we do not in the church advocate for a particular political point of view is because there are many options for solutions, and people of faith find different ways to solve these needs.  This debate can be constructive if we conduct ourselves in open Christ-like ways.

 

Doing nothing is not an option for Christ followers.  Failing to find a way to help others is giving in to the forces of evil in our world.  If you and I disagree on how to meet a need, the healthy approach is for both of us to do what we can based on our faith and our experience. In that way, the options for help and healing are multiplied.

 

I’m outraged at the death of children and school workers.  I’m concerned that persons in our own county do not have clean drinking water. I’m upset that law-abiding, tax-paying persons who have been in our country for years are being deported, dividing their families.  I can’t believe the devastation and human suffering in Syria.  I’m concerned for the future of our planet.  Racism, sexism, homophobia, abuse and harassment are intolerable to me.  No one should be judged by others based of who they are in God’s creation.

 

I confess that I have done more complaining about our leaders than I have prayed for them.   I need to do more to help in constructive ways.  I will help to feed the hungry and share the resources that I have, but I will also advocate for change in the conditions that create hunger and poverty.  I will support groups like Circles that are working in concrete ways to end poverty in our city.  I will continue to encourage others to do the same.

 

Let’s let our common passion to do good, and our divergent views on how to change our world, spur us on to “do all the good we can, in all the ways we can, to all the persons we can, in every way we can”, to paraphrase John Wesley.

Are you outraged and upset, too?  Let’s focus on what Jesus would do, and do it!

 

Pastor John Ross

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