I haven’t heard that song for a long time, maybe because, sadly, it isn’t accurate. Love wouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind when people think of Christians today. Many of Jesus’ followers have a bad habit of demanding their rights, mostly so they can say unloving things. I wasn’t surprised then to read of a poll finding that Christians tend to believe, more than twice as likely than any other group, from atheist to Muslim, that the poor are to blame for their situation through bad choices, behavior and character. Judgment, not love, identifies the Christian.
Jesus died that we might be consumers and consume abundantly?
Too many Christians have fallen for a false gospel of prosperity, imagining that God’s love equals wealth, meaning that those without riches have sinned and deserve their suffering. Never mind Jesus’ own example of poverty. Christians can have it all—eternal life and endless stuff! Never mind those words about praying for God’s will to be done on earth or loving your neighbor, not to mention camels going through the eye of a needle.
Loving our neighbors–an optional commandment?
On the 21st of the month, Trinity members will fast as part of a program sponsored by Bread for the World: voluntary hunger meaning empathy for those who have no choice. Hungry, we begin to see the complicated reality of poverty. We might recognize that Christians are right—partly—poverty is a result of sin, but sin isn’t always personal. Within the complex interdependence of human life, we find many causes and effects. Trying to untangle the web of human experience can set us on a different spiritual journey, one of compassion and growth. Christians could be known for our love.
Prosperity—Jesus promises and asks for more than that. Abundant life, Jesus’ promise, means living with God’s presence now, not just going to heaven when we die Jesus invites us to be part of the Kingdom now, sharing in that community where God’s will is done through inspiration and compassion.
Jesus promised that Christians would be known, by our love, not our judgment and wealth. One hungry day won’t accomplish all that, but it’s a start.