A couple weeks ago I wrote on my blog about my family’s finances and our desire – and struggle – to give 10% as first fruits to God. It’s a tough call, right? 10% of our income to God. Often, my thoughts are, ‘10%? as if we don’t have enough problems on our hands as is…’*tsk tsk* Jane. Good thing you compare yourself to a Pharisee in that post.
What it comes down to is this: our attachment to money and what it can do for us. Sometimes unbeknownst to us, our attachment to money grasps onto us without our full consent. It sneaks its way into our hearts and becomes a stumbling block to our relationship with God and with our neighbours. This is a problem. This ‘giving 10%’ thing has highlighted how this has become a problem for me. And I see others struggling with this too. Not only that, but Jesus looks at me, with love, and says, ‘Jane, my Pharisee of a sister, but what also about justice and the love of God?’ (Luke 11:42). As in, ‘Good stewardship of your money is one thing, but what about these too?’ The Pharisees gave money to charity, just as I do. What else is missing? Justice for whom, I might ask? That would be my neighbour.
Oh, and wait – it gets even better.
Who is my neighbour? Turns out Jesus answered that too:
25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ 27He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ 28And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ 30Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.” 36Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’ 37He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
Luke 10: 29-37
My neighbour knows no boundaries. I am charged to care for my neighbour. The Samaritan, the foreigner, is the one who took care of the Israelite.
We are currently in a world-wide refugee crisis. I have been astonished at the large number of memes I’ve read over the last number of weeks that pit these desperate people against local homeless (in particular). Their message has all been the same: don’t care for the refugees – we have homeless enough in our country!
I stand against this attitude.
Yes, the poor are literally in our midst. We also have local charities in place to aid those in the streets. Most of the time, they provide some form of help. Now, refugees – the ones fleeing violence. What are their options? What services do they have access to in order to help them through this troublesome time where they aren’t sure if they’ll live another day? Our neighbours who are being pepper sprayed by countries denying them access to safety; the ones who had to choose which children they could take with them when fleeing ISIS:
Sozan pulls a blanket up around the baby.
“We had to choose…” Sozan looks up at me. Mawra’s eyes are squeezed tight — like she’s trying to forget.
“We had to choose which children we could take — and which we had to leave behind.”
Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience, her written experience after spending time with refugees from ISIS.
Where are these people’s support? They have no one. They do not have a community to turn to that offers Food Banks, that offers crisis and transitional housing or offers health care and counseling for free. Yes, we need to continue our support of local initiatives that help take care of the poor in our midst. There is no question about that. But it does not mean that we turn a blind eye to refugees. It does not mean we get a free pass when it comes to helping the poor and needy in the global community. Fleeing a country for you and your children’s lives is a much different situation and thereby requires a much different strategy for help than being pitted against our local homeless and needy. Both need our attention. Both need advocates in our communities.
I stand against the outcry against refugees. I stand moved by their stories of horror. I stand, and I am moved to mercy and action. I am taking my limited income and putting what I can to help them. In addition to that which we already support.
We are not a large income family, as I’ve written about before. But we have so much more than only the clothes on our backs, fleeing gunshots and murdered loved ones. We have so much more than climbing into a boat carrying my children and hoping we can land somewhere without drowning, like so many other refugee boats have gone before. Hoping that whatever we come to is better than the brothers left for dead on the floor. The husband killed to give the women and children a fleeing chance for freedom.
‘Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’
He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’
How have you been responding to our neighbours?
Copyright 2015 Jane Korvemaker.