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On Tsunamis & Bogs, Part 2: Where Are The Christians?

Posted by Rick · January 2nd, 2005 · 3 Comments

It seems appropriate to me — this being Sunday, which for most Christians is the day they go to hear preachers — to introduce another “Balaam’s Ass” post.

Yesterday, I wrote about the terror of the tsunami that has struck Indonesian countries. I pointed out the incongruity of our willingness to step in with what might ultimately total over a billion dollars in aid (taking worldwide contributions into account), when there is very little willingness to help resolve a much more serious problem right here at home: the plight of the poor.

Particularly in a nation that prides itself on being “a Christian nation,” that we should take care of — instead of ignoring, explaining away, or excoriating — the poor is the right thing to do.

As I closed that difficult blog entry, aware that people who call themselves Christians are puffed up with what they view as the successful acquisition of the United States government, I wanted to leave those who claim to be Christian with something of interest from that sect’s own Bible. (Jews and others can, no doubt, find similar thoughts in our own works.)

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Matthew 14:14-17 (New International Version)

They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.

Those whom I’ve often referred to as neo-Pharisees pride themselves on taking the Bible as the literal word of G-d. Has it been mis-translated? Perhaps the interpreters missed this piece:

And Jesus first determined whether these people were able to work for themselves. He inquired into their abilities. He concerned himself with how their own iniquities had put them in this position.

I submit to you that there is no record in anything Jesus did to show that he ever withheld healing, teaching, feeding, or caring based upon whether or not the recipients of his largess were deserving.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you. (See 1 Corinthians 4:14 (New International Reader’s Version).) Was it not your own Christ who said,

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 (Amplified Version)

Did he not say,

For I tell you, unless your righteousness (your uprightness and your right standing with God) is more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20 (Amplified Version)

And what will it cost you? That depends on whether you believe the words of your own G-d or not.

“Bring them here to me,” he said.

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Matthew 14:18-20 (New International Version)

The disciples, not wishing to share their food because they thought they had only enough for themselves, ended up with 12 baskets of food when all was done.

I propose to you that if this were a Christian nation, the model Americans would be following is to take what they had, give it to their G-d, and let him use it to satisfy not just the needs of those without, but to increase what the donors had left over. If this were a Christian nation, Americans would be eager for opportunities to help, instead of thirsty for conservative “think tanks” to explain away the poor. We would be feeding others, instead of trying to find ways to make them disappear. If we were a Christian nation, we would do this because Jesus said,

They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.

Categories: Social Issues


3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bob // Jan 6, 2005 at 2:49 pm


    As you know, I have no fondness for the ones that have stolen the word “Christian” for their own political gain but I cannot help but notice that, as the days have passed and the count of the death and destruction continues to rise, this nation IS giving more and asking the same of its citizens.

    In my opinion, this is good for a number of reasons, first of all is to help relieve the suffering. Second is that perhap, just perhaps, the peaceful followers of Islam will see our heart and not associate us with the great satan we are made out to be. Perhaps we can establish a bridge of common humanity from this tragedy.

    This is not to say that I was not insulted by the brother of the president getting face time in the press over this. The Governor of Florida has no business there. This is just obvious and transparent publicity to help build this Bush into the next president.

    This is not Christian. It’s self serving.

    But what do we really expect from those people?

  • 2 Rick Horowitz // Jan 6, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    I think you missed the point of my entry by a tiny bit.

    Granted, people are pouring out their hearts — and pocket books — for this very visible disaster. Forgive me if I wonder how much of that has to do with a) the sheer undeniable visible magnitude of the problem, b) the fact that loads of the people involved were Westerners and c) the fact that lots of white people were paraded before the cameras in the early days of the disaster, talking about their losses in the most heart-wrenching of ways (e.g., background music, tear-jerker mosaics, etc.).

    My question wasn’t “where are the Christians in the aftermath of this tsunami?” My question was “where are the Christians in the face of the even greater disaster right here at home?”

    I haven’t heard any numbers yet putting the death toll from the tsunami over 200,000. After disease, starvation and other consequences of the aftermath, let’s say the number hits half a million.

    Guess what? There are 35 million people in America who live lives of quiet desperation, many of them scraping just to get food and shelter.

    That’s what I’m talking about.

  • 3 JAS // Sep 24, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    There are Christians and others helping feed and help people in the US

    America’s Second Harvest feed 23 million in the US last year.

    Food banks are in every major us city in the us helping families that are just getting by.

    Rescue Missions are over 100 years old in some cities that are still feeding, clothing, and housing many of the area homeless. They don’t have PR departments and the struggle around state and federal regulations that inhibit their work.

    Tons of food is thrown away each year that could feed the needy. We have the food – but the government and others must allow us to feed them.

    An area food bank told me that they are REQUIRED BY REGULATIONS to discard outdated food. This includes vacuum sealed and canned foods. What a shame.

    I have found a way to retrive some of this from the trash to help feed my own family of 6 for I too seem to barely make it – while going futher in debt. ( I haven’t had a raise in over 8 years at the same job for the same non profit company) But I dare not give this food to someone else – or be charged with a crime.

    Operation Blessing, Samaratians Purse, Salvation Army, North American Mission Board of Southern Baptists, and many other groups are helping to feed the needy in this county too.

    Just because you do not hear about it on TV does not mean a lot is not being done.


    If every american (Christian and non Christian alike) would sacrifice a little – WE ALL COULD FEED ARE NEIGHBORS. $ 50 billion a year is the estimated cost ( the same as Americans spend on going to the movies in a given year) Yes, it would be possible.

    One non profit group was told they couldn’t start a food bank because they didn’t have “good enough” locks on their doors. GIVE ME A BREAK.

    The government causes more headaches in feeding the poor than they do in helping feed the poor. One church was told that they could not feed the homeless out of their own church building because the property was located in a neighborhood setting (not zoned properly).

    While another church was told that they could not prepare and cook food for the homeless at their church because they did NOT HAVE A COMMERCIAL KITCHEN (stainless steel workareas – even though non of us have stainless steel countertops at our own homes) even if giving the food away.

    The government makes it TOO EXPENSIVE for us to GIVE AWAY food to the needy.

    Christians are NOT the problem but GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS (local, state, and federal) are !


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