Tuesday, March 17, 2015

thought for food?

Reading today about the proposed cuts to the safety nets here in America including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and the Affordable Care Act while increasing funding for our nation's war games, and I posted a question on my Facebook account.

Time and time again I hear from evangelical Christians how it is the duty of the country to protect us and the duty of the church to feed the poor, care for the elderly, and help virtually all of the marginalized. We could argue to infinity about the merits of the church doing its duty and why it has failed.

My thoughts tonight are along these lines: "What do people do who don't love the church but want to support the poor?" Or what do people do who want to help the marginalized but have issues with God or gods?" 

Have we thought of the absurdity that only 'the church' should take care of the marginalized? What about the non-believers who are hoping our nation finds a pulse and declares that life matters? Yet 'church people' are saying only the church should be doing this?

Jesus declares that when you care of 'the least of these' meaning people along the margins, you love him. Yet, we as Jesus people have fallen into the idea that only the church (and perhaps some non-profits) should care for the marginalized

Anyone else think we have this messed up? 

1 comment:

Nate Custer said...

So I think part of this has to do with what the word "church" is pointing to. Common use normally points to organizations that call themselves churches. Another way to use it is how H. Richard Neihbur used it in his essay: "The Responsibility of the Church for Society":

The Church is that part of the human community which responds first to God-in-Christ
and Christ-in-God. It is the sensitive and responsive part in every society and
mankind as a whole. It is that group which hears the Word of God, which sees His
judgments, which has the vision of the resurrection. In its relations with God it is the
pioneer part of society that responds to God on behalf of the whole society, somewhat,
we may say, as science is the pioneer in responding to pattern or rationality in
experience and as artists are the pioneers in responding to beauty.

As I read that, its clear that his use of "Church" can describe the part of any group in society or society as a whole who are responding to the current situation with faith, trust, and love. When my friends were teaching this activist meaning of church to christians in the 60s, they would push this use of church by asking: "What is the church within the KKK?" Because what Neihbur is pointing to here is a dynamic or stance, not a specific institution or program.

In this sense, I think the answer is to work with and build organizations that are sensitive and responsive to the present moment. If that means working with religious people, you might have to hold your nose and do that. If that means working with people in a secular context, same thing.

Perhaps the word Church is too far gone, a friend of mine has been using Ekklesia to talk about this dynamic of "those who understand themselves to be called out to deal with a crisis." It makes it easier to go back to what Ekklesia was pointing to in Greek.