24 October 2013

Love Thy Neighbor, But Only After He's Been Drug Tested  


Jesus was a radical.

Today, he is the head of a Church, but when he was among man, he was a radical. He claimed to be the son of God, and mankind put him to death for that.

Billions and billions of men and women from nearly every civilization since his crucifixion have modeled their lives to His in their own way. Faith, for better or for worse, has been the driving force of human history.

In the eighteenth century, a bunch of religiously persecuted travelers from Old Europe emigrated to a New World. They made compacts, pledges, and promises to one another. They dumped tea, survived the British onslaught, and shed blood. And in the end, a new nation was formed, whose framers imbued with the best qualities of Judeo-Christian values.

There are many today who use the example of a "Christian nation" to shout down rights for gay and lesbian Americans, the omission of prayer in schools, or the choice of programming on cable television.

Yet when it comes to the most basic Commandment--"love thy neighbor as thyself"--Americans today are tragically lacking. The most recent debate on our Facebook page is case-in-point.

When considering the (rather humiliating) imposition by the state of mandatory drug testing as a condition of receiving welfare payments, here were the "pro" comments:

"If you have to be drug tested to work for your money, you should be drug tested to be handed money that others work for."

"heck yes drug test them to give them free money"

"Has nothing to do with the right to vote or receive protection, it has to do with government spending money on a bunch of "lazy" people."

When are we a "Christian nation" and when are we not? Are we only Christians on Sunday? Are we only good people if we get to choose exactly who gets our sacred "charity?"

We declared our freedom from British rule by declaring some self-evident truths, "that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Those who have little money--whether through their own "efforts" or unfortunate circumstances--are less free than those with more.

If we were a Christian nation, how would we look on the issue of welfare? What does the Good Book say about doing with those "pesky" poor or "lazy" among us?

"If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers, in any of the towns of the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand to your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks." Deuteronomy 15:7

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it." Ezekiel 16:49

"Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice, and rob the poor of My people of their rights... Now what will you do in the day of punishment, and in the devastation which will come from afar?" Isaiah 10:1-3

"And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same." Luke 6:33

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Money." Matthew 6:24

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46

We may think: "Of course God loves the poor; he loves everybody." But it's not so simple as that; God's character is presented as a model for our own. If God values the poor, we have to think about what that means for us.

What we do for the least among us says a lot about who we are. What we do as a society through our government for the least among us says even more.

What do we gain from shaming our fellow man? Who gives us the right to pass such haughty judgment? If outrage on behalf of the lowliest and the laziest in society makes one a radical, at least you know you're in good historical company.

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