Christian = Naive?

I am convinced that I must  not have the most recent edition of the good ole dictionary.  I am certain that if I look up the word Christian in the dictionary, that it most likely has the word NAIVE as the definition.  Or, is that just what everyone thinks?  I had to take down the sign in my yard touting my church affiliation due to the increasing number of persons knocking on my door asking for $.  Not only do they ask me for money and feed me some crazy, disjointed story, they get indignant when I tell them (truthfully) that I do not have any money, but I ask if I could feed them instead.  Need to get to the doctor in Leesville, don’t have a ride, need some money to make it there….do I look stupid????  Can’t feed your kids, you work at Sonic, you are hungry, need some money to buy groceries but are standing on my plywood porch puffing a smoke from a $5 pack of cigarettes?  Really?  I am, like most everyone else, trying to make ends meet myself.  In fact, in another week, I am marching back out into college world trying to obtain a second (hopefully more helpful) degree, along with a Masters.  I will be working part time, plus going to school full time.  We have cut several things from our budget to ready ourselves for the loss of my income.  We have not had DirecTV in over 6 years.  We recently were forced to get cell phones due to our rental business.  Before that, we were on a tight, no frills budget which did not allow for cell phones.  I do not have caller id.  Do not leave me a message saying “call me back” and expect me to know your voice AND your telephone number.  (Sorry, that is a side rant.  Am annoyed with persons who do not leave their name, telephone number and a brief message like my machine instructs them to DO!).  Anyway….

I have had more people turn their nose up at the food I have offered then I care to count.  If some of these people were “really” hungry, they would take what I offered.  I usually stock up on canned meats and different items that are easy to open and pack them in paper bags with disposable plasticware.  I had one guy tell me, I don’t have any way to cook or open anything you give me.  I told him that everything is cooked, all of the cans have pop tops and there is plasticware and a napkin in the bag.  He still didn’t want it.  Lol…some people!

I have even had some go so far as to say that they thought I was a “Christian”.  The next person who tells me that, I am going to ask them: “What is YOUR definition of being a Christian?”  Do they expect you to be a doormat?  Do they expect you to hand out money no questions asked?  Because they don’t get their way and I don’t hand over what they demand of me, that makes me NOT a Christian?  Sounds more like a toddler throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way.  I don’t remember Jesus waving his hands and creating money trees.   I am reminded of what Peter said to the lame man “Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee…”  I think I am going to print that on cards and staple them to the bags….lol…although I think the point would be lost on most.

Ok, so what is my definition of a ‘Christian’?  A Christian is a follower of Christ through example and deed.  Being a good and responsible human being.  Being compassionate, but not an enabler.   Being merciful, but not smothering.  Loving others enough to hold them up when they need it, but also allowing them to learn on their own through trial and error.  To live your life morally, with integrity and weighing all things with a sound conscience, but not preaching to everyone else what they “should” or “need” to do according to personal opinion.  To have an understanding of Biblical principals and how to enact them in your life.  “…in all thy ways, acknowledge Him” Prov. 3:5. 

Above all, a Christian (or whatever you want to call yourself…Christ Follower, Bible Believer) is someone who enacts Matthew 25 in their daily life. 

Matthew 25:35-40

 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

I have to admit that I am quite a miser.  And to think of even giving someone a dollar gives me a headache.  I work hard, as does my husband.  We pay taxes (which I am all for and think as responsible Americans we should pay our taxes).  I give to missions.  I give to our church’s building programs.  I pay tithes and offerings.  I donate time and effort to local charities.  I take food to the sick.  I visit the elderly.  I take care of widows.  I live on a tight budget and do my best to control our expenses and do not spend outside of our means.  Even if that entails living with less or living without.  So, when someone, whom I don’t know from Adam, stumbles up on my porch and asks me for money, it is rather hard for me to justify handing over money — I pinch so tight George Washington yelps — to someone that appears to not have a job and be drunk.  I am sure if food was what they were going to spend it on, they would gladly take my food bag instead and not worry about the money at all.  However, when they balk at the food, I know that the money was not intended for nourishing the body.

I have since edited this post a little and I would very much like to point out Bryan’s comments below.  I cannot say it better.

Andrea

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11 thoughts on “Christian = Naive?

  1. I have had those thoughts for years. Offer them food, they Will turn it down. Give them money and it’s Hi-Ho of to the liquor store I go!!! It’s the old saying….”God helps those who help themselves.” Looking back, that’s pretty much the way it works..
    Alex

  2. I have been thinking, off and on, all day about your post. It is a thorny subject and thought. Do we (Christ followers) help those in need, without question, and run the risk of all you outlined, or do we make the decision who we will help, and at the least, receive condemnation from others, or at the worst, unwittingly fall into a judgmental posture. (YOU are worthy of my help but YOU are not) I can only offer a few ideas that may provide some food (yes, pun intended) for thought.

    Jewish writings and thought almost always fall heavily on the side of the oppressed. Whether forced into a desperate situation by large scale forces or simply “bad luck,” Jewish writings constantly admonish, teach, and rail against oppression and poverty. The Jewish year of Jubilee is only one example of a way to “reset’ the wheels of injustice. Jesus, speaking from this heritage as a Jew, clearly spoke to this issue. So now we are the point of helping the poor, the orphan, the imprisoned. (Matthew 25) It seems that first of all, in all of Jesus’ examples that I can think of, providing for those in need was done in community. The story of the feeding of the thousands was done in concert with the little boy, disciples, etc. Also, I am sure you remember the parable of the land owner who returns to town throughout the day to hire more workers. Most of the time the point of the story is about the generosity of God, equally given to those who worked all day and those who just started. What is often overlooked is the point that all those men hired WANTED to work. They were there, waiting for a chance to be hired. Pretty much the same as today’s “illegal” immigrants gathering in certain locations looking for honest work. The point being that no one SHOULD be poor, or hungry, or destitute. All who give an honest days work, or are at least trying, should not go hungry or live in the slums, playing house in a cardboard box. Yet, Paul then mentions, in I Thessalonians, that those who do not work should not eat. It seems this is the balance. Paul never knew Jesus nor probably even many of Jesus’ parables or sayings. Yet Paul understood, as Jesus did, that we must help all in need, all who are trying to make a life for themselves, but do not simply give to those who would only live off the generous nature of Christians. I suspect Paul encountered the same situation as you did.

    We live in a complex world. I suspect however that the same kinds of people walked in the middle east 2000 years ago as they do today. Many just want to provide for their families, to have safe place to raise children, to work and receive an honest wage. Yet there will always be the few that do not want to work but would rather receive without working. Do we let them starve? No. But neither do I believe, in our U.S. culture, do we as individuals attempt to solve their problems. That is what community is for.

    Hope this helps. I struggle sometimes with the same feelings.

    • I could not have said it better. How can you be poor in America? Not many people have gone overseas, because THAT, my friend, is where you will find true poverty! After taking missions trips, it amazes me that there is anyone homeless or without food in America. We are such a rich and blessed nation.

      The parable about the workers is one of my favorites.

      Do you like the story of Hosea and Gomer? If so, you may enjoy Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. For some reason, the parable about the workers, brings this book to mind. I think of the parable as, even those coming to the ‘fold’ later, have just as much right to be ‘saved’ as ones who have been ‘Christians’ all their life. You may have a different take on the parable.

      • Travel to many, many other countries can certainly illuminate the differences in the definition of “poverty.” Unfortunately, so many here are homeless and hungry because of either chemical dependence, mental instability, or simply really bad luck. For those “down on their luck” I am very, very supportive of aid. Sadly, our current legal system is, in my opinion, broken when it deals with the mentally ill or chemical dependent. The magnitude and seriousness of this problem magnifies the need for large scale solutions, or the “community.”

        I am familiar with the Hosea/Gomer story. It certainly is an example of the use of the absurd to make a point. Based on the limited understanding I have of Kosher law, this story would be even more dramatic to a practicing Jew than for us today.

        Regarding the parable of the workers, I certainly don’t disagree although I would say that we all are given equal grace, regardless of our history. I don’t feel I have any right to grace/salvation but then I am also most certainly reflecting being raised in Protestantism. It is those back stories, the idea that all those workers really did want to work but just couldn’t, that I find fascinating. Oddly enough, this morning, as the scriptures were being read, something unrelated to the point of the sermon surfaced. One of the texts was Hebrews, mentioning in passing the story of the Hebrews in Egyptian captivity. I am sure you know the story well, so I will only point to the thought that after Egypt invited the Hebrew people into Egypt, no doubt in charity but also saw potential additions to the workforce. It was later, after the Hebrews had grown in numbers, that the Egyptians became nervous and began enacting laws to control the Hebrews. The parallel today, with our (U.S.) use of migrant farm labor, much of it “illegal,” and the fear that “too many of these people” will come in and take over our country is strikingly haunting.

        The story didn’t end too well for the Egyptians.

    • Another thing, about the Hebrews is, there was famine in the land, but Egypt was prosperous because of Daniel. Egypt stored up food. The Hebrews migrated to Egypt, as did other nationalities, to buy food. When they had nothing left to sell, they became enslaved to the Egyptians. I do not think the Egyptians welcomed them with charity in mind. I believe that the Hebrews owed the Egyptians a debt and sold themselves into slavery.

    • That seems to be a good article. I have not read through the whole thing yet. I agree with you, though, about a lot of the homeless and hungry being mentally unstable and chemical dependent (which is another form of mental instability…addiction). In fact, I have enrolled myself back into school to obtain a psychology degree and masters in counseling with an emphasis on chemical dependency and addictions. I would like, when I finish school, become a counsellor dealing with addictive disorders and relational issues.

      I possibly may have been misunderstood when talking about the parable. I believe that we are all saved by grace and given equal grace too. I equate the workers in the parable who worked all day and were indignant because the later workers received equal pay…with people in the modern church with the attitude that they deserve a greater reward in heaven because they were committed to Christ their entire lives, rather than those who just came to Christ.

      I also, would like to point out for clarity, that I don’t think everyone is a con artist and that we should dismiss the poor or the hungry. I just think we need to be careful. There is a thin line between enabling a habit and being charitable. Thus, the reason I give out food rather than money.

  3. Thanks for the clarification regarding the workers parable. I privately assumed as much but writing can be terribly imprecise. Congratulations on your return to college! Our world needs more people dedicated, and possess the skills, to help the mentally challenged.

    Your comment regarding the Hebrews feeling as if they were in debt to Egypt and essentially sold themselves into slavery is interesting and a different from what I have heard. I suspect that as the famine was fairly widespread, it seems that the story implies other cultures traveled to Egypt looking for food. I wonder what kind of impact they had? I don’t want to project my 21st century ethics on Joseph and think he would be as charitable with all people as he was with his family but he may not have been. As Aslan likes to respond, that isn’t our story.

    • Tis all good questions…bears searching out. I will have to revisit those passages in the Bible.

      Thanks for the congrats. I am very excited.

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