Today at The Assembling of the Church, in the post How Does the Church Respond to Poverty, Alan shared an email he had recently received. The person wrote to him about the church’s treatment and general attitude toward those in poverty. This person wrote from experience as someone who has seen both the generosity and love of some in the church as well as the judgment and selfishness of others. Something in the email caught my attention and got me thinking about something:
[a common response from the church is to a]ssume the [impoverished] person or family has committed some error or sin that has left them in their current situation. Because nobody in America is poor unless they are either lazy, foolish, or sinful.
So it is typical to assume that people are in poverty because of some sin. I have definitely heard this same line of reasoning from Christians, so I would certainly be willing to agree that, among Christians, this is a typical response to poverty.
I also remember talking a couple weeks ago about another struggle that many people face that is blamed on sin. Depression.
Then there are those crazy people who say that earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes are the result of the sins of the people in those places.
Then there are the political/religious folks that say America better support Israel or we will lose our country for our sins. Or maybe we already are losing our country from the horribly sinful lifestyles of our citizens. Maybe that is why our sons die in war, because of the sins of their country.
There’s also this story in the Bible about this guy who loses everything and some of his buddies come along with good intentions. They try to help him solve his issues. They know that Job must be sinning. If he would just repent this would all go away.
And then there was this other story in the Bible that talks about a blind man. Jesus’ disciples want to know who sinned to make this man blind. They assumed that he was blind because of sin.
I’m starting to notice a pattern.
So we know for sure that Job’s friends were wrong, Jesus’ disciples were wrong. I wonder if that should serve as a warning to us …