Pieces of Cane II: We the People...
The following is a direct quote from someone responding to a text to donate fundraiser on behalf of G.O.’s Haiti restoration efforts on Facebook:
“although they need the help...I believe in helping home land first...then spread out....something we have ALL failed to do.”
We should start out by saying that we have no intention of judging the person who made this statement. They may or may not agree with the Christian worldview that drives us and informs our posture towards the world. We get it. It’s a belief we too used to share. It’s a position that we used to hold even as Christians, but it’s a position that ultimately ends up being unfaithful to the implications of the Gospel which is what we came to discover over time.
The sentiment assumes an “us first, others second (maybe)" mentality. A close reading of the Scriptures (Galatians 3:28 might be a start) simply won’t allow for that kind of division or order of care. We’re dealing with this “us first” sentiment in the “Pieces of Cane” series both because it’s something we legitimately had to struggle to understand and also because it is a false obstacle for many to get intentionally and powerfully involved in making a difference for the Kingdom both locally and globally.
Why is helping the homeland first or taking care of our problems first before helping “them” problematic?
The title of this post is “We the people.” The reason for that is because at root how we understand ourselves as a people will affect how we carry ourselves in the world. From a Christian perspective the sentiment to help the homeland first or “our own” first is based on a case of mistaken identity, namely our own. As Christians we have a deeper citizenship than the one described by our nationality. Our identities in Christ unite us across national, political and ethnic boundaries joining us in a political body called the Kingdom of God that dynamically has been established, is coming and will be fulfilled. This unity in Christ, this political reality trumps all other allegiances that would divide it. In Jesus Christ there is no more “us” and “them" i.e. Galatians 3:28. Our “homeland” describes us socially and culturally but our identity resides in the person and presence of Jesus Christ.
There are far too many Christians in the United States that are Americans first (you can sub-categorize that as far down as you’d like from Democrat first or Republican or black or white or Hispanic, etc.). We confess that this was a path that we had been on for quite some time. We are not judging those on such a path. We are stating, however, that it is a wrong path to be on, one we’ve struggled to leave. The label needs to shift from American Christian to Christian American. That may seem an insignificant adjustment but what it means is that the Kingdom of God becomes the dominant story and ultimate reality, not any other story. It means that we can’t make of ourselves an “us” that does not include every “other” that exists in the world because Jesus has made himself available to the world and died for it, not just the people of a specific geographic location.
So the “We” of "we the people" must be understood in a Christian context to include everyone who draws a breath. Ultimately, this is the answer given the law expert in his effort to justify himself before Jesus by asking, “and who is my neighbor?” It should not surprise us that Jesus would raise the bar for us far higher than we ever would ourselves. When we recognize that “We” means “All” in the Kingdom of God it delivers us from the “neighbor confusion” that would lead us to only help those considered to be a part of our “in group.” When we try to draw up lines that create insiders and outsiders Jesus would simply ask us “and who was a neighbor?” and then, assuming we got the answer right, he would tell us to go and do likewise. Doing likewise, at least for us, proves to be a process of learning and failing and sometimes getting it right.
Today or this week or this month, a year after the quake or whenever this post happens to find you, would you consider responding to the need of our neighbors in Haiti by texting GOHAITI to 85944 to donate $10 to G.O. Ministries efforts in restoring Haiti? Would you allow this to be one modest way that you can be a neighbor to those suffering in Haiti? It's a means of providing a meal for a boy, education for a student, medical treatment for someone who might not get it otherwise. It can literally save a life. Of course, you can always do more. To find out how just click on "contact us." We'll be glad to help you.
You can also make an online donation here.
Grace & Peace,