Yes, I have an iPhone.

Why I have an iPhone (& What it taught me)
Today, I got a package in the mail. I have gone from having no cell phone at all over the past few months, to now having an iPhone 4. And I know (because I am such an open book and have received such comments before), that at least some of my friends are likely wondering,

If you only spend $200/month on groceries, why do you have an iPhone?

It’s a valid question, because I know it could look like mixed up priorities, and it’s important for us to be constantly checking our priorities. However, it is also important to remember that things are not always as they seem.

In scrolling through my facebook feed tonight, I happened on some very passionate opinions about the topic of struggling people and smart phones. People said things like “I’m tired of working my behind off so that some lazy person on welfare can have a smart phone.” (and that’s with the language sweetened up a bit).

And it got worse. It got worse from my Christian friends. It’s nothing new. These type of posts increased in my feed throughout the political season last year and never really went away.

I’m not trying to start a political debate

I’m not trying to argue politics here. I think we can all agree that gov’t assistance is somewhat broken and it’s not a perfect system. What I want to talk about is bigger than politics. Can we step back and think about that for a minute? Remember that there really is something bigger than our political affiliation?

And in light of that something bigger, these hateful comments greatly sadden me. Because I think Jesus means it when He says things like this:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Bashing someone with such anger and prejudice isn’t getting the job done. I grew up in poverty. We were on public assistance while my mom worked hard to try and support our family, but we still couldn’t make ends meet. And my dad battled severe, debilitating depression.  And I felt the stings. I’ve seen Christian people say things like, “If a man makes bad choices or doesn’t work, he should pay the consequences, even if that means his kids go hungry.” (<–direct quote from a fairly well-known Christian blogger)

And those comments make me sad. In part because they are personal. That’s me you’re talking about–you’re saying that I should have gone hungry. But at the same time, it’s so much bigger than just the little girl in me getting her feelings hurt. It’s the empathy that God gives us when we can see through His eyes just for a minute, and see that we are all His children, created in His image, and we are called to love one another.

We’re called to love as Christ loved us.

Do we really think about that, or do we just say the words? Do we really stop and consider just what that means? Christ gave His all, His everything, His life for people who did nothing but hurt Him. For people who rejected Him. For some who won’t ever accept Him, He still laid down his life and gave His everything.

And we’re supposed to love other people like that.

Those are heavy words, but we have to let them sink in.

We’re called to be selfless.

We’re called to have a mind like Christ, to esteem others as better than ourselves, and to look out for one another’s interests and not just our own. (Philippians 2:2-5)

In our selfish, self-centered, self-driven society, do we even know what it means to put someone else’s needs above our own? And remember, remember who our “neighbor” is. We moms might be great at putting our children’s needs above our own sometimes…but the commands aren’t only for our children, or our families, they extend to strangers…even “the least of these”.  (Matthew 25:31-46).

Because in serving them we are serving Him.

We’re called to “do unto others…”

(Luke 6:31). It’s not just the “golden rule” or some nice saying to throw around. It’s something that Jesus Christ himself called us to do–to treat others as we would want to be treated.

Not the way they treat us.

Not even the way that we think they deserve to be treated.

But the way that we would want to be treated. 

(Because, I mean, if we can get real honest here for a minute, we all deserve to go to hell and it’s only by the grace of God that we don’t–not of our own works, lest anyone should boast. And aren’t we glad that we don’t get what we deserve?

Can we drop our stones?

Can we stop judging one another so harshly? Can we just put down our stones, because it’s exhausting, and as Casting Crowns so aptly put it, it’s a sword we were never meant to swing. 

Because things aren’t always as they seem.  Maybe that girl just moved away from home a year ago and her mama worries about her and the grandbabies. And maybe that mama has a cell phone plan and can get a free iPhone on new lines w/ contract. And maybe the cost of adding her to that plan was less than the cost of a house phone. Maybe what seems to be frivolous to you was actually the more frugal choice.

But even if this isn’t the case, even if things are exactly as they seem–we don’t have permission to spew that kind of venom toward God’s created people.

Lord, I pray that you will help me to see those around me through your eyes. Help me to give them the benefit of the doubt, and to love them. To want the best for them just like you do.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m sorry that so many have judged you on something as silly/unimportant as owning an iPhone. I’ve wrote about food stamps recently, because my pastor had called it a sin and I highly disagree. No one should have to go hungry. I just wish the church would do more to help those in need(and by ‘church’, I mean Christians as a whole). Thanks for the eye opening post.

    • Crystal says

      Thanks, Hannah! Not all of the judgment was directed at me specifically, but I just think the attitude is sad to see. And you’re right, I wish the church would step up and do more to help. There is definitely a broken system, but spewing hate and judgment toward people isn’t the answer to making anything better. I remember your food stamp post. I have encountered that belief as well–that any gov’t assistance is a sin. The only “assistance” we receive is that my children get inexpensive, state supplemented health insurance, and I was even told that was a sin.

  2. says

    Preach it. And just because someone has a smart phone doesn’t mean they’re spending a ton of money on their bill. My phone cost me $40 refurbished and my bill is $20 a month. I don’t have a data plan I just use wireless when available. And to assume someone on welfare didn’t save their money to buy something nice for themselves is wrong. Someone might not be able to afford $1200 in health insurance every month (what ours used to be before switching to medishare) but when that money is freed up they can afford a one time purchase of an electronic “toy”. I can’t stand this attitude.

  3. says

    Oh girl, I think you know how near and dear this topic is to me. My own best friend (well, we are no more) bashed on people who are out of work in her FB feed while my husband was in his third year of recession related unemployment. Real people,GOOD people go through hard times and that’s why the system was created in the first place. We all contribute to it at some point so we can have a fallback when we need it, because Lord knows life is full of trials and hardship. I would never wish unemployment or financial crisis on anyone, but it seems it’s those who’ve not had the carpet of earthly treasures yanked out from underneath them, who throw stones and fail to understand or see that we are all a broken mess. Thank you for writing this. I have some food stamp related blog posts on my site UnEmployedFaith.com for those who struggle with feeling embarrassed by having to use food stamps or government assistance. There are still more than 19 million Americans either unemployed or underemployed right now. I’m fairly certain 90% of them would give anything for a full time job so they can effectively support their family.

  4. says

    This is beautiful! I have read lots of those negative comments as well. I’m on “welfare” have been ever since my husband moved out a few years ago. My kids needed to eat and I had no money so I applied for food stamps. That’s what it’s there for to help those have a need. We have a need. When we no longer have that need I won’t apply for the help.

  5. says

    “And there remains, faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” That passage in I Corinthians 13 isn’t just for weddings, it’s for EVERY DAY. I really don’t understand the need to post negatives on FB or anywhere – or for that matter in person, by a look, by body language . . . If we literally love others the way we love ourselves, we won’t judge. The problem is, I’m afraid, that many of us don’t love ourselves, or see how much God loves us. That turns into anger, and that turns us into “mean girls.” (reference to the Esther study! ;) ) Enjoy your iPhone. My bookmobile driver recently got one, and she’s ecstatic that she can now carry pics of her new grandson with her wherever she goes! :)

    • Crystal says

      That is so true about not really loving ourselves, Regina. And I do think those insecurities turn us into “mean girls.” I’m loving that study! And, since you brought it up…maybe I’ll actually do my homework this week! lol.

      My mom is excited that she can face time with the boys! (or is it just face time them? See, I don’t even know the lingo! lol)

  6. says

    I’ve heard and seen all the ugly judgements Christians so mightily cast down on those they feel are deserving of their criticisms. After all, “I work for what I have… blah blah blah” I hate it. We have had our share of struggles over the years and I’ve never understood how people who are called to love, can be so utterly hostile to those they don’t feel deserve it. Seriously? NONE of us deserve it. We’ve all fallen short. Such a great post, Crystal. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Like you, I want to do better at loving the people God does, which is to say, everyone.

  7. says

    Awesome post Crystal. I am just thankful you were able to get a new phone. Where it came from or how is no one's business. There are cruel people among us who feel it is their place to judge us. Matthew 7:1 tells us to judge not or that we be judged.
    Sharing in your blessings!

  8. Lori Davis says

    Congrats! How do you like yours? Hubby bought mine used and we activated it on a prepaid plan for $40 a month. I love how easy it is to use.

  9. says

    I think you’re right about everything you said, but I think the majority of Christians don’t have a problem with certain people being on public assistance( single moms, the unemployed, the disabled and the mentally ill to name a few) but we, at least I do, have a problem with people who take advantage of the system. Able bodied citizens who could work, but rather not. I personally would never judge you or anyone else for being on welfare, but I don’t like being taken advantage of either.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Jillian, I’m actually not on welfare. Just someone who thinks we should be nice to people in general, whether we feel they deserve it or not :)

  10. says

    You make a really good point that we shouldn’t pass judgment when we don’t really know the background story (like Gramma paying for the cell phone plan). But on the flip side, is it still wrong to judge when the evidence is right in front of you? Many times I’ve been in line behind a girl using a foodstamp card to buy food. But then she loads the belt for a second order of booze, soda, and snack foods. If one has cash for alcohol and junkfood it begs the question of how one unable to afford milk and eggs and cheese.

    I must also disagree with you on the overall premise that judgement is wrong. We’re human. We pass judgment all the time but that isn’t always a bad thing: “Your dress is pretty”, “You wrote a creative post”, “The cookies you baked were delicious”. That’s judgment but its positive and we don’t stress over it. Yet we can’t pass only positive judgment in every situation. Jesus passed negative judgment plenty – on the merchants using the temple, on the tax collector, and others.

    We also have to judge in order to avoid trouble. I’d want my son to use good judgment when choosing friends and deciding who to date. That’s because I don’t want him to get into trouble running with the wrong crowd or a less than stellar young woman.

    Just some points to ponder…

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Jill, I really am not sure how to answer this. The post wasn’t about using good judgment, or making a judgment about something. It was about being judgmental, which has a completely different connotation. Yes, we have opinions about things. That’s not the point.

      The “overall premise” had nothing to do with judgments, but rather that we should love others the way that Christ commanded us and that does not include making jabbing remarks toward them or at them. Please, show me in God’s word where He gives us permission to base our treatment of others on our judgments of their actions. I’ll gladly retract the whole post. But He doesn’t.

      We don’t EVER know the entirety of anyone’s situation. Period. Only God knows that.

      But, even if someone is making poor choices, it still is not our place to be rude, demeaning, etc. I hope that clarifies things a bit. And, like I said in my post, I agree the system is broken and that it is abused. Obviously, that’s wrong. and yes, it can even be frustrating to see. But the way God calls me to treat all people is a completely separate issue and it isn’t negated by what I perceive to be someone else’s wrongdoing.

      Finally, using good judgment to avoid a bad situation is a completely different issue, and, once again, doesn’t require us to act in a hateful way toward someone else at all. Not dating a woman of questionable reputation is completely different than calling her bad names, etc.

  11. Anonymous says

    I totally agree with your post. I would like to point out to the people who think all of these able- bodied people should just go out and get a job though…there are plenty of people who would like to be working that cannot find a job in the area they live or in a field they have worked in before. So many middle-aged folks have been let go or downsized out of jobs that NO LONGER EXIST. The factory worker of 20-30 years may not even have a high school diploma but may have been making a living wage. Where is the job for him/her? Just because we see ads in the paper or in a window doesn’t mean everyone can just go walk into a job if they just “tried”

    • Jillian Dicosimo says

      Hi Karen, don’t know if your comment was directed at me, but since I did use the phrase “able bodied” I’ll assume it was. If you read my comment closely, I said that I have no problem with certain people needing a little help. The single mom, the unemployed, the disabled, the mentally ill, etc. I think its wonderful that we have help available to people in those situations. I just don’t think it’s right that there are people who could work but don’t, because they can get by with govt. assistance. Like people who deal drugs, take in foster kids that they really don’t want, people who fake a disability etc. Maybe I’m a little more cynical than most, having grown up in NYC and seeing this all.the.time. Maybe it’s because my husband deals with these types of people all.the.time. I understand and agree with Crystal’s view on this, that we should be kind to people wether they deserve it or not. {Matthew 5:46 For if you love those that love you, what reward do you have?} I guess I’m just frustrated with the system. That’s all.

  12. Britney Fitzwater says

    I really enjoyed reading this, I even said "amen" a few times. I am guilty of "throwing stones" and I am just now accepting my assignment to love with compassion. I recently blogged about it as well. Great post!

  13. says

    One of the things i like best about you is that while everything within social media tells us the way to “reach” people and be successful within this realm is to post often and constantly be promoting ourselves.. you do the opposite. step back. sit quietly. and remind us to do the same. that’s it’s okay. that it’s needed.

I love to hear your feedback and value your thoughts! All I ask is that we remain respectful and civil, even when we disagree. Thanks so much for reading. I appreciate you!

Thank you for joining in the discussion!