Churches don’t side­step those in need

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY BOB CROCKETT, DAVID RAYNER AND ROGER HICKOX Bob Crockett, David Rayner and Roger Hickox are El­ders in the Con­nec­tion Point Chris­tian Church in Char­lot­te­town.

The Guardian edi­to­rial “Tar­get­ing Churches,” July 13, re­quires a re­sponse.

There has been a lot of neg­a­tive, even hurt­ful, com­men­tary in the me­dia of late, tar­get­ing the home­less and those who are seek­ing do­na­tions from the pub­lic to eke out an ex­is­tence.

Your edi­to­rial asks the ques­tion: “What­ever hap­pened to the ba­sic con­cept of Chris­tian char­ity?” and goes on to in­form the pub­lic: “Churches have al­ways been con­sid­ered a sanc­tu­ary for the op­pressed. If one can­not ex­pect char­ity or a sym­pa­thetic ear at a church, what hope have pan­han­dlers at a busy down­town cor­ner?” What hope, in­deed. As de­fend­ers of the Chris­tian faith, we would ask that the good folk of Char­lot­te­town look into the word of God to find that very hope of which the edi­to­rial speaks. Not just to read the word, but to prop­erly in­ter­pret it, and then ap­ply it in our daily lives.

The para­ble of “the Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) is a story Je­sus told in order to com­mu­ni­cate what is ex­pected of those who would claim to be­lieve in Him. Be­liev­ers in Je­sus Christ are not to “side­step” the needs of others. In Je­sus’ para­ble, two men — a Rabbi and a Le­vite — side­step the needs of the man ly­ing in the road­way. Both of these men knew the law of Moses re­quired that they as­sist the man in dis­tress, yet they chose not to. The third man was a de­spised and lowly Samaritan, in that day, yet he was the one who stopped and met the needs of the man in dis­tress.

Sadly, this seems to be the state of the world to­day, where churches are be­lieved to be the ones sidestep­ping the needs of others.

We read that the fore­most com­mand­ment in the Bible is to love God, and the sec­ond is “to love your neigh­bour as your­self” (Luke 10:27). Upon these two com­mand­ments is built the Chris­tian faith.

One might ask, “Who is my neigh­bour?” The Bible an­swers this ques­tion in sev­eral pas­sages. The an­swer: ev­ery­one and any­one.

What we need to re­mem­ber is, Je­sus spoke these words to His fol­low­ers, and they are words which still speak to His fol­low­ers to this very day: “If any­one would ask for your coat, let him have your shirt also. And if any­one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would bor­row from you.” (Matthew 5:40-42).

Sadly, the world­view has in­fil­trated the very church that God Him­self es­tab­lished over 2,000 years ago through His son Je­sus Christ, and it is un­der­min­ing the truth of scrip­ture.

In Matthew 5:43-48, Je­sus in­forms us that we must love our en­e­mies and then He warned us by say­ing: “For if you love those who love you, what re­ward do you have? … And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you do­ing than others?”

Je­sus de­mands that we treat all peo­ple alike, re­gard­less of cul­ture, social sta­tus, or re­li­gion.

Matthew 25 in­cludes a pic­ture of the “Fi­nal Judg­ment,” where hu­mankind is di­vided into two camps, i.e. sheep and goats. What is par­tic­u­lar about this pic­ture is the re­quire­ment from God that we treat each other with kind­ness and com­pas­sion. The sheep will be re­warded be­cause they pro­vided food to the hun­gry, water to the thirsty, wel­comed strangers, clothed the needy, vis­ited the sick and those in prison. The goats showed no kind­ness and their re­ward will not be good!

This is the mes­sage of the Chris­tian faith and the church must be avail­able to meet those needs, un­der all cir­cum­stances.

In Ti­tus 13:1, we are en­cour­aged to show hos­pi­tal­ity to strangers, for by do­ing so some have en­ter­tained an­gels un­awares.

Let’s not tar all pan­han­dlers with the same brush by re­fus­ing to help and sup­port those in need be­cause of the per­ceived ac­tions of a very few.

Yes, the edi­to­rial is cut­ting, and maybe with some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, but please do not paint all church con­gre­ga­tions as un­sym­pa­thetic or un­will­ing to help those in need. This too can be over­come with a re­newed com­mit­ment to the Word of God as it re­lates to the poor.

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Don’t paint all church con­gre­ga­tions as un­sym­pa­thetic or un­will­ing to help those in need, say El­ders with the Con­nec­tion Point Chris­tian Church in Char­lot­te­town.

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