Love them or Leave them?
Sometimes I wonder why it takes ‘experts’ so long to see the nose on the end of their faces. I don’t wish to be rude but this week I have heard that a study has discovered that children who are happy at home do better at school. Well that stands to reason doesn’t it? Come on people.
Now the news tells us that the riots in England during 2011 are actually our fault…there are 500,000 ‘forgotten families’ out there.
Issues such a poor parenting, difficulties with reading and writing, unemployment, and what to do with young offenders were all named as elements of the ‘complex causes’ for the rebellion and hopelessness we saw on our streets last year.
I then hear Christians nobly wanting to take up some of the blame – it's our fault for not impacting our communities. The solution? They want us to offer more to the less educated and poorer families. Let’s give them education, lets give them debt advice, literacy classes, job interview skills and help with their CV’s…
Please don’t get me wrong – my heart aches for the desperately miserable and futile lives that some people have but what we really have to ask ourselves is do they care? This week I read an article about a man who sawed off his own foot because he didn’t want to go to work! Rather extreme? You haven’t heard the full story yet! He then takes his foot and cooks it in the oven just in case anyone tries to sew it back on again. When the medical team reach him they rush for the foot and find it too burnt to do anything with.
Now, who’s fault was that?
Christian’s have got to realise that no amount of job club help will change the heart of this man. No amount of counselling can turn a bad parent into a good parent. No amount of ‘hand holding’ can stop an ex-offender from returning to his or her old ways. So what do we do?
Well it seems that Christians (in general) do two things:
- They do nothing. They retreat into their churches and moan about the state of the world and how wicked it has become. They think up strategies to keep the lead on their roofs and the lead in their hearts! They ‘preach the gospel’ in the good old fashioned style that they were brought up with. Thee’s and Thou’s and then they worry about the wrong sort coming into their church (Personally I don't think they have much to worry about!). While we were on holiday we attended a church in the UK only to find all the doors locked – despite the fact that the notice board announced a 10.30am service every Sunday. We left, but my husband returned again that evening at 6.30pm for the evening service. The same thing happened but this time as he tugged away at the door handle the door opened and a gentleman asked him what he wanted. After a short discussion the man at the door allowed my husband (a pastor!) to come in saying, ‘we have to be careful, you can’t be too sure who you’re letting in these days.’ THAT my friends should make you weep.
- But we’re not all like that. Some of us are so desperate to shrug off the stuffy middle-class respectable Christianity that is so off-putting that we go the other way entirely. They did ‘services’ and ‘bible rallies’ – we do ‘projects’ and ‘community action.’ Reading classes, parenting classes, counselling, housing, homelessness….we have a finger in every pie and we feel soooo much better for it.
Do you know what, its not about us feeling good! It’s about us feeling UNCOMFORTABLE. This world is not our home – why do we expect it to be such a polite and nice society when it has rejected God and rejected the only real Hope it has? Should this world be better off because we’re here being salt and light? Sprinkling our fairy dust over everything we touch? Making everything better?
Doesn’t your heart bleed for the mess we are in?
THINK ABOUT THIS. If a woman rejects Christ what will she teach her children? If those children grow up with no regard for their creator or for their souls then what will that do to their characters? What will become of their moral values? If those children grow up to have children of their own then what will they teach their children?
Do you not understand that … “There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (2 Timothy 3 : 1 – 5).
I’m not saying do not help them – its obvious they need help – but how do you help them?
I recently heard of two Christian brothers who took clothes to the very poor and needy of society. This was meant to be a gift of great love and compassion – instead it turned into a brawl where the men themselves were pushed aside as people 'helped themselves' to the clothes. (Lovers of themselves…ungrateful…without self control).
I recently heard of a church who set up a centre to help the homeless in our society but was ripped off so many times that they have been forced to stop giving out money or gifts. The help that they now offer (non-financial) is scorned and rejected ( brutal, proud, without love slanderous).
A young drug addict asks a pastor to borrow £20 so that he can get to his job interview and when the pastor refuses he is abusive. When another young man asks to borrow £20 to go to a job interview the Pastor gives him the money and the young man spends the next six months avoiding him so that he doesn’t have to pay the money back…
A woman stands outside the church complaining that she has no food to feed her kids. She asks for money but the church take five bags of shopping to her house. She is disappointed. There are no children in the house – they have apparently been removed by social services – but she’ll keep the food anyway and come to church next week. She is never seen again.
You see – there are lots of projects and groups set up by society to provide social action. What makes Christians think they can do it better than anyone else? It’s not really ‘help’ that most people need. In fact if you give them ‘help’ they get annoyed…unless it’s help getting a flat (can you pay the first months rent?) or in keeping a flat (can you pay the arrears?) or in getting a car (can you find me a brilliant car for next to nothing….and erm, could you pay for it to?) or in entertaining their kids (I love this bible club, can’t you run it every day for the whole of the summer holidays) they will take all that you give provided you don't give them Christ (how dare you shove your religion down my daughter’s throat. She’s praying and talking about Jesus now – you’ve got a cheek!). They are happy for you to help with their children’s education, (You’re a maths teacher aren’t you – can you help my son pass his 11+?) and they would be so grateful if you would 'bend the rules' and help them with their children's education (I know I haven’t been coming to church that regularly but I promise to come from now on, can you sign my daughter’s form so she can go to that nice church school around the corner?)
As a Pastor’s wife I have been used and abused and kicked myself many times. I've been caught out more times than I can tell you. My heart wants to help but I have come to realize that people are like slot machines….they promise you a big jackpot, but all you end up doing is feeding the machine and losing all your money!
So what do we do?
WEEP FOR OUR SOCIETY.
Jesus looked at Jerusalem and wept. He didn’t set up a project…well no, actually he did in a way….’Go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and the Holy Spirit.’ This is what our society needs! They need the Saviour!
Do you not understand that if a man finds Christ he finds purpose?
Do you not understand that if a woman finds Christ she becomes a new creation?
Do you not understand that it is Christ who changes the heart and mind of a person?
Do you not understand that the Holy Spirit convicts and changes people so that they turn their backs on their old ways and embrace the values of Jesus?
I say this with conviction because I come from a family that was radically changed by Jesus Christ. My parents found Jesus when I was 3 years old. My parents are both deaf and left school with a certificate in cake decorating and a certificate in woodwork. My father used to sit me on his knee and tell me bible stories from a big green book. He made them exciting and wonderful. Whenever he learned a new story from the bible he would tell it to me. I can remember sitting down one day at about 5 years of age when my dad decided we should start thanking God for our food. That Christmas my mother packed up all my old toys and we gave them to a charity raising money for children in Africa who had no food. Christ changed our thinking and our attitudes. When we went on holiday Dad said we had to leave our caravan spotlessly clean when we left – so that people would see that Christians are thoughtful people. When I accidentally came home with a packet of crisps that I hadn’t been charged for, Dad walked back to the shop with me so that we could tell the shop-keeper and pay for them. When I grew up and had my own son he one day came home from Tesco on the day that they introduced scary self-service tills. Keen to have a go he scanned all his items and came home – without paying. He had forgotten that bit! When he went to give us the change he realized he still had the £20 that we had given him so we went back to the store to pay. The manager said ‘are you mad? You could have gotten away with that….but erm….well done for your honesty.’ That manager had a job, he clearly had intelligence and had done well to become a manager but his values were not Christ’s values. Scratch the service of every 'decent' person and you’ll find you don’t have to go very deep before you find a deceitful rebellious heart.
CHRIST can change a society – if you want proof of that you only have to look at what happened in the Welsh revivals….pubs closed down, crime went down, churches were fit to burst…
Please Christians – don’t try to patch up society – however well-meaning you may be. It’s like putting a plaster on the stump where the guy just cut his foot off! People need Christ. Love them by all means – but love them enough to tell them about the Saviour.
Do you mind if people rush out of your church at the end of the morning service so they can have a quick smoke? Do you go out of your way to welcome the ex-offender who has found Christ in prison. Will you welcome him into your fellowship without telling everyone to watch their handbag? What about that nice young couple who tell you so cheerfully that today is the anniversary of the first day that they moved in together? That 18 year old pregnant girl – do we really want our teens mixing with her? What will you do with that young man who tells you he couldn’t get to church last Sunday because he stayed up too late sniffing cocaine and was in not fit state that morning?
LET THEM IN….You CAN be sure of who you let in these days, they will be broken, damaged, people who have lived lives without Christ. Do not expect them to be squeaky clean and respectable… When they tell you things about themselves that would make your grandmother’s hair curl, understand that this is what a life without Christ looks like. Your challenge my friend, and your ultimate privalege will be to see what a life transformed by Christ looks like. Have you seen it happen yet?