If we are a Christians, if we are a Christian people, then why?
If we are a strong nation, a brave nation, then why?
If we are a safe place, a shelter then why?
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Who are we?
I don’t think we can give Job’s answer. I hear in his words an indictment of my people, a judgement against my nation.
“If I have denied justice to my menservants and maidservants when they had a grievance against me, what will I do when God confronts me? What will I answer when called to account?
Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? “If I have denied the desires of the poor or let the eyes of the widow grow weary, if I have kept my bread to myself, not sharing it with the fatherless— but from my youth I reared him as would a father, and from my birth I guided the widow— if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing, or a needy man without a garment, and his heart did not bless me for warming him with the fleece from my sheep, if I have raised my hand against the fatherless, knowing that I had influence in court, then let my arm fall from the shoulder, let it be broken off at the joint. For I dreaded destruction from God, and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things. “If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high. “If I have rejoiced at my enemy’s misfortune or gloated over the trouble that came to him– I have not allowed my mouth to sin by invoking a curse against his life– if the men of my household have never said, ‘Who has not had his fill of Job’s meat?’— but no stranger had to spend the night in the street, for my door was always open to the traveler– if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart because I so feared the crowd and so dreaded the contempt of the clans that I kept silent and would not go outside– (“Oh, that I had someone to hear me! I sign now my defense–let the Almighty answer me; let my accuser put his indictment in writing. Surely I would wear it on my shoulder, I would put it on like a crown. I would give him an account of my every step; like a prince I would approach him.)– “if my land cries out against me and all its furrows are wet with tears, if I have devoured its yield without payment or broken the spirit of its tenants, then let briers come up instead of wheat and weeds instead of barley.
I hear our “bible” belt turn out the helpless and refuse the hurting. I hear people cry out “we can’t help those strangers they might hurt us but what about those who are like us? Let’s help them.”
“Stand at the gate of the LORD’s house and there proclaim this message: ” ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the LORD. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!” If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
We listen to men who only seek riches. We follow men who only care about appearances. We shout away the homeless, hurting and weak and only let in those who look like they belong. We ignore the cries of the needy, and champion only the cries of gold and security.
Not every moment should be spent in tears and wailing but we should be ashamed that when the moments come to address them our first response, our first effort is to see how quickly we can shut the door.
I thought we were America, I thought we were a safe place, I thought we were a beacon. God judge us for our fears and our cold hearts.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.‘ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I listened to someone live tweet the bombing of Raqqa and all I could hear was the words from Pan “The children were screaming, the children were screaming…”
We are so focused on ourselves. We are so afraid of being hurt.
When did we become a land of cowards?
. . .
That’s not fair. Plenty of good men and women have opened their homes, have sacrificed their lives, have given so much and are still giving. But the mouth pieces of our nation are so quick to condemn, so quick to judge and refuse to lift aid. All I hear are the words of the Pharisees “It’s the Sabbath, he’s a gentile, she’s unclean, I’m washing my hair that day.”
Where are the words of Christ? Where are his children? Why are we trying to hide?
Several other people more gifted and eloquent then I have offered better words on the matters of recent days. They suggest wisely that you look for the helpers and help them. Choose wisely and research who you are helping but find a way to help.
These are the moments of history. These are the days where our actions are judged. Don’t close your hearts out of fear. Don’t judge others or demand they change before you help them. Jesus didn’t go to the healthy. Don’t demand people be well before they receive your assistance. Don’t celebrate the killing.
I wrote this to encourage my friends, my family, my nation. If you are seeking ways to help and love then keep doing so. If you aren’t then pause please and consider. If you are closing doors, stop.
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.