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.