Aug 26, 2008

Disposable People

I have been thinking about this topic for sometime now, and lately the relevance of the idea has become paramount in my own life, so I feel like I should say something.

All of us like to think we matter. Whether it is on our jobs, at church, or at least in our own families, we want to know we count. However, there is a perception that seems to evade many of us, that some people are, well, to put it in the easiest terms, not needed.

It seems society places such a huge stigma on certain people and if you do not fit the image that they expect of you, you simply are not needed; not even wanted sometimes. I know many of us at one time or other have felt like we were not wanted, but truth is we like to hide behind our fears and our insecurities and not even think we are the ones they are talking about.

Magazines, movies, television, and now even apostolics have placed us all in boxes based on our appearances, money, or other criteria. We look at people based on preconcieved ideas of who they must be based on our perceptions of what we have heard, or our own prejudices of certain features of life, and all of us are guilty of this in some fashion or other.
We like to think and rationalize our behavior by using other criteria to categorize people, but in the back of our mind we know what we really think. Let's be real here. "That person is too fat, too ugly, wears their hair funny, or doesn't wear the latest fashion, so they cannot possibly be as good me."

I laughed the other day when my son came home wearing clothes my mother would have thrown away when I was growing up because they looked like they came from the bottom of the rag bag. We wouldn't have been caught dead in clothes like that because we may have been considered poor, and we couldn't have that. My son, on the other hand was wearing clothes that were brand new. He bought them at the store that way, and paid entirely too much for them! But that is the style that is accepted now, and he wanted to fit in. I can relate to that, all of us want to fit in, but what about those people who do not fit the stereotypical criteria, do we exclude them just because they may not look, or act, like us?

Yes, we do. All of us are guilty of this on some level. Maybe we do not want to sit by the fat man on the bus because there is a chance he may smell, or near the mother with the baby on the airplane, because we want to have a good trip, and that doesn't include a crying baby next to us. Some of us would cross the street, rather than come close to someone of a different ethnic background, and most of us wouldn't even think of venturing in certain parts of town, because, well, that is where the bad, "insert ethnic group here", poor, druggies, drunks, live. We base our feelings based solely on who we think people are. Sometimes, we are afraid of people just because they look or act different.

This is never going to change. Society is always going to place stereotypes on certain people. The sad thing though, this same attitude has become pervasive in the church, and yes, even in the apostolic, pentecostal movement. If people do not fit our mold, we assign them a type, and we don't fellowship, associate, or God forbid, allow them to participate in our services. This is a travesty, and I am certain God is not proud of us.

We have become the Levite, willing to pray for the sick, hurt, abused, outsider, but we will not cross the street to see if we can help somehow. It is killing our churches, and it will change us all.

The scripture says, "I looked for one to stand in the gap, and didn't find one." That is the generation we live in. We are blessed, no doubt, and we think we have the best preachers, singers, teachers, that money can buy. Yes, I said that money can buy, because some churches base who is good enough to be even a praise singer, based on how much money they put in the offering or how much tithe they pay. Yes, it is a fact. It shouldn't be, but it is.

Countless churches build edifaces to themselves on the notion that they are building for revival. They take man-made objects and elevate the style of the building, and yes, even the style of worship on what they percieve is what is wanted in this 'contemporary society.' They call themselves apostolic, because Pentecostals have become more mainstream and even trinity, and they cannot possibly be associated with that. How arrogant we have become, in our standards and attitudes about others.

There are many churches created solely from people who have been hurt, and yet we claim God can heal, deliver, etc and that He is bringing revival while people who have gone to church for decades are headed out the door in marital problems, financial issues, or simply because they have realized no one really cares about them. I know I sound angry. I am!

The prophets of old were angry when they saw the people of God breaking the very rules of God simply because it wasn't the way they wanted to live. We have joined society in pushing aside people and our excuse is they must not have had a great relationship with Christ. Really? Just this past week someone told me the reason for a situation in a family was because they were in rebellion against the pastor. I asked how they knew that, and the lady talking to me, said "Honey, everyone knows they were out of line, just ask anyone in our church." Appalling.

Jesus came to heal, save, and deliver, but we have taken his message and used it to puff ourselves up; create cliques; and decide who is worthy of the blood. I am ashamed for everytime, I have thought of approaching someone to just be nice, and walked away because, they were fat, or weren't dressed right. How can we win the lost, or even be Godly ourselves if we categorize people?

We cannot.

Do you realize that had Jesus been born in our generation, he wouldn't have been allowed in our pulpits?

He was concieved in an unmarried woman, and so automatically some would have looked down on her. He came and made himself of none effect; in other words he chose to be born in a family that did not have wealth. His earthly parents made do with what they had, or worked hard. Even in the bible he wasn't considered a 'man of God.' They called him the carpenter's son. He did not many miracles amongst his own because of their unbelief in his power. Appalling I know, but in reality, we wouldn't have treated him any better.

There are always discussions about whether Jesus had a beard or long hair. He walked everywhere, or caught a ride, because he didn't own his own transportation. He didn't even own property, and slept wherever he could find rest.


He is the one we serve, and yet we won't show up to donate food most of the time to foodbanks, let alone give a homeless man a sandwich. I could go on and on, but I think you can get my point.

Jesus said 'inasmuch as you have done it unto others you have done it unto me.'

This doesn't just apply to feeding the hungry, but it also applies to those who are hurting, or perhaps have an unused ministry.

Why, preachers, pastors, do we not use the tools, talents, abilities God has given us? I know of ministers who have been pastors for years, and are now cast aside like yesterday's leftovers, while we bring in people without anointing to be the ministers. I was told by a friend of a pastor who uses his backslidden sons for his worship leaders when he knows the night before they were playing in a dance band at a local bar? WHAT?

It has been a long time, since I heard some elderly sister wail in the corner for lost souls. It has been a long time, since the value of people was not based on what they wore, or how they looked, but it was based on how they worshipped.
Gone are the days when we labored in the altar for one soul who might need Christ. Now, it seems as soon as the message is over, we are already at the local fast-food place in our minds, and the altars are empty.

I know all churches are not like this, but there are so many that are, that I wonder when Christ does come will he find us watching, or checking out a menu at McDonalds?

Where is our burden? We preach about soul winning, revival, and loving our neighbor, while we wipe our hands with antibacterial handcream after shaking hands, if we even do? Have we know faith, no compassion left?

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be lost! Jesus said to go after the halt, the lame, the poor, the wretched, that his house may be full. I don't know when it became how much you can put in the offering made a difference in the eyes of Jesus. He said the least shall be the greatest, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted, and yet those with their heads bowed, sometimes in shame because they do not have the best, or cannot put much in the offering are looked at as less than good enough people. Disposable people.

Does anyone call them up when they miss a few services? Does anyone remember their name?

When he comes, there are going to be many who say, 'didn't we do this, or that in thy name?' He is going to shake his head sadly and say, 'I don't know you.' It really isn't what big thing we do for Christ, although that is what we say. It isn't the amount of money we put in the offering. It isn't whether or not we look the part. It isn't even if we can preach good.

It is whether we have done what we could to lift our brother who is hurting. It is whether or not we have called the lonely, or taken them out for a hamburger. It is the ones, that stoop low, and wash their brother's dirty feet, and give a blanket to the widow woman that are going to be sitting there next to Jesus on that day; the ones who have done to the least of these, have done it unto me.