I was asked interesting questions today. Actually it was more of a comment than a question. It was the question that rose up in me that was more where the question part from. I have a friend. She is not religious. She is a good person. That is not to be read “she is not religious but a good person.” It is just what it says. She is a good person. She is not religious. Being a good person and being religious are no synonymous with each other. I know a lot of religious people that I don’t care to be around.
My friend was telling me about her friend; a friend who lost nearly everything in the Nashville flood of May 2010. Since then the friend’s disabled spouse has had a heart attack, had adult child with spouse and four small children move in with her and yesterday, the father of those small children was killed because he tried to check a tire on her car. The jack didn’t hold and the car crushed him. She blames herself. Four children are orphaned. How much more can this woman bear?
The street near this woman's house after the flooding in Nashville in May 2010.
As we talked I found out that a group of volunteers who were helping with flood recovery knew about her situation with her destroyed house. However, they sent no volunteers to her because – she wasn’t one of them. She wasn’t one of what? How do we decide those things? How do we decide someone is “one of us?”
Then I found out the woman went to church. So I asked the reasonable question. Didn’t her church help her with the flood recovery? I also learned that since the woman is the sole provider in this family they don’t have much financially. I found out that no, they hadn’t. No one had come to her assistance from her own church family. This woman is religious – does that mean maybe she is religious but not good? Or that she is religious but just doesn’t belong to the right group?
Brookings Flood September 2010
As we talked I relayed a situation I had heard about in Brookings, where I live now. Brookings got flooded last week. Many people lost their homes and transportation. Like the woman in Tennessee, these folk didn’t seem to be the ones with the money. They definitely didn’t have flood insurance. Their mobile homes and cars sat in water. My friend asked me why it is that those already at somewhat of a disadvantage always seem to be the ones that get the floods and disasters. That’s a really good question. I don’t know the answer to that one and wouldn’t even pretend to be so spiritual as to make one up.
Seems there are an Iraqi immigrant and his wife and small children who lived in the flooded waters of Brookings. The Iraqi immigrant translated for our military personnel before immigrating for fear of his life. Seems to me he’s a patriot. Now he’s lost what little he had in this flood. His youngest child is a few weeks old. Another friend, yes I have one or two in Brookings, said she was going to help them. I said count me in. Then my Brookings friend, can you imagine being an Iraqi Muslim around hostile Christians and then lose everything. Now she’s a good follower of Jesus Christ. She’s not necessarily religious. She is a good person.
So the question I am asking today is where is the church? Where are those of us who name the name of Jesus and say we follow Him? Is this Iraqi our neighbor? It sounds a lot like the story of the Good Samaritan to me. Then there is this good church going woman in Tennessee. Where is her church family? I told the congregation that I was preaching to on Sunday, caring for each other is very close to the heart of God? Who needs you?
Matthew 25:34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. 35 And here's why: I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, 36 I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.' 37 "Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? 38 And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' 39 40 Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me.' 41 "Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. 42 And why? Because - I was hungry and you gave me no meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.' 44 "Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?' 45 "He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me - you failed to do it to me.' 46 "Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."