Churches don’t sidestep those in need
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.
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.