I was reading through a thread on Facebook that was essentially this-
Why isn’t a good education available to all kids? Why do some schools have over 70% of children on free/reduced lunch while others just a few miles down the road are closer to 10%? Why is there such a strong correlation between income and educational performance? As a community, shouldn’t we be doing something about this? These are our children, our future, we need to talk about this.
People talked about it on that thread- of course they did. And the general, overwhelming consensus, while often not stated directly, was that people are poor because they are lazy. “I worked for what I have, so why should I give up MY hard earned money to help others who won’t help themselves. Can I get an AMEN?” NO, you may not. (Also- no one referenced “amen”- I just felt like it fit.) Ironically, the initial poster was someone who raised her child on welfare, food stamps, pell grants and other government assistance. People continued to say things like “well, YOU are the exception, most of THOSE other people who are poor, well, it’s their own fault because THEY DON’T CARE. They should stop being lazy and get a job”. I hear a lot of things along the lines of, “information is free, so it is someone’s own fault if they don’t take advantage of it.”
This makes me angry and also so so so sad.
I had a similar feeling of overwhelming sadness and anger a few months ago when someone I love said that “Christians should stop spending so much time helping others”.
I. CAN’T. EVEN.
Seriously people? Seriously?
(Side note, if you have been hurt by someone who doesn’t show you love, but also teaches that God is love- I’m so sorry for your broken fragile heart. I love God, I believe God is love, and I will love you, I promise)
I have been going to church since I was a baby. Surrounded by Christians who taught me that God is love. That Jesus came here to show others love, grace and mercy. That we should strive to follow and live like Jesus. I am straight up angry about the hatred that most people show towards “the poor”. Even more than that, I am sad, I am frustrated and I don’t understand how anyone who can love Jesus can feel any sort of animosity towards “the poor”.
I love Jen Hatmaker’s quote, “Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor. It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It’s almost like Jesus meant what He said. When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence infinitely more than a tract or Christian performance in the local park. They convey, “God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue.”
I hear responses to statements like this that are essentially along the lines of, “if I give someone money, they will buy cigarettes, lottery tickets and booze”. It might be true. But that being said, that has never been my experience. “The poor” in my life have used money to buy food, gas and pay bills. Another glorious Jen Hatmaker quote- “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we’re not convinced it will be perfectly managed. Must we be wise? Absolutely. But doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission. Turning a blind eye to the bottom on the grounds of “unworthiness” is the antithesis to Jesus’ entire mission.”
Goodness gracious, we are talking about living breathing people. People that God created. PEOPLE. Not statistics, not “the poor”, not whatever other label you want to throw on “them”. These are people with hearts and souls and we are to love everyone.
While mentally shouting about this in the shower (that’s where I do my best thinking)- I also felt a gentle reminder that I don’t get to be mean to people who are being mean. Well crap.
I would rather just be angry at people who make me mad. I don’t want to love “those mean people”, I should get to act like a 4 year old throwing a tantrum because “those people” are mean.
I am upset that people are being mean to other people who don’t have money, so in turn, I’m going to yell at them/about them/etc. Well that’s helpful…
It’s easier when I can just be angry and “shouty” and mean. It’s easier to say “you- you person who has money- you give your money to that person who has no money, and now everything will be better”. It’s easier to sit back and say things like, “we need to help the poor”. It’s easy to say “our world is broken and we have problems”. It’s really really easy to blame someone else for making a lot of mistakes you are certain you never would have made.
You know what’s really hard- loving people. Seriously- try it. Try to love every single person you come in contact with today. Every angry, broken, frustrated person you encounter- give them love, and grace, and compassion, and mercy.
How can I make sure all kids get a good education? How can I solve all the worlds problems? I can’t.
I also don’t get to sit back and do nothing. Remember- I’m being brave now. So today, I am just going to love people. All people. Rich people, poor people, happy people, sad people. If I can try to love every single person in my life, I think that will help.