God Bless You

“God Bless You!”
My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you?  Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don’t have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”—if you don’t give them the necessities of life?  So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
Patti and I passed this guy on a recent trip.  He was stalking the entrance to Dinosaur World.  I wanted to visit the whole attraction, but only had time to stop and take the photo of this triceratops.  I guess this would have been one of those places where some adults would have been too embarrassed to visit without being accompanied by a youngster.  Not me! Lots of things cause me to wonder.  Can you imagine walking through the woods and having one of these creatures lumbering toward you?  (Scientists tell us they didn’t exist with humans, but still, can you imagine?)  Talk about filling up some space!
Sometimes I encounter ideas, thoughts, and situations that continue to lumber through my thoughts and take up a lot of space, even reaching the point that they just sort of get stuck for a while.  I recently encountered one of those behemoths.  During the Pope’s visit to our country I read an account that quoted a news reporter as saying they thought the Pope was worshiping the poor.  This startled and stopped me like a triceratops trundling from behind a rock pile and blocking my way.  I think what startled me the most was the thought that if this person was trumpeting such an idea from their platform, others must be thinking and saying the same thing.  Let me see if I get this right, to acknowledge the plight of the poor and the injustice of their situations, to have compassion and mercy for the poor, to want to look for ways to improve the conditions and opportunities of suffering women, men, and children is to worship the poor?
I realize there are lots of differing opinions about socioeconomic justice and methodologies, but this kind of statement is dangerous, very dangerous, because it seems to me it’s the first step toward dehumanizing the poor and giving justification for continuing on a path of greed without concern for those who do not have the same opportunities for fulfillment and life advancement.  As a matter of fact, it tends to justify the idea that not only are the poor not worthy of thought and concern, but rather, they are simply in the way of those with the means and opportunity to prosper.  To tease this reporter’s statement apart a little more, it implies that the Pope has become idolatrous, turning from worshiping God to worshiping the poor.  Really, to show mercy and compassion toward another is to worship them instead of God?

I think when I was young I remember hearing that anyone could work hard and become whatever they wanted to be. I took it to heart and with lots of opportunities, help, and resources worked hard and was able to step into the places where God called me to be.  However, along the way I’ve come to observe that not every child has the same means and opportunities.  I am clear that whatever “success” that might be attributed to me comes as much from God’s help, the help of others, and good opportunities as it does from my own hard work.  More help is necessary for some than others if they are to be able to work hard and live into their potential.  It will not help us to divide and blame so we can dismiss.  It also will severely impair our own walk of faith.  The author of the book of James is pretty blunt and clear when he says that faith without compassion is dead.  I pray that God will keep Christ’s love alive in my heart so I can continue to answer the call to faith with compassion and mercy.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,

Gary

Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

My other book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.

Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24

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~ by revgenelson on September 30, 2015.

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