We just finished going through the book of Jonah at church. A few weeks were spent on God the rescuer...and God's merciful nature. A God who, if an evil nation repents and turns from their ways, will relent of the destruction that was intended for it. Yesterday's sermon focused on Jonah's attitude toward them. He didn't want God's mercy to be given to them, he wanted God's justice.
So we talked about our attitudes--whether we desire compassion and mercy to be poured out on all people, or if we are a little bit glad when an evil person finally gets what they deserve. But beyond the head (my attitude and thoughts about who deserves what), I'm convicted of my behavior. I want to help the poor. and in all honestly...unless I have a personal relationship with someone who happens to have money...my general attitude toward the rich is not very compassionate. I could justify this with the idea that they don't need help...they're self-sufficient so why would I waste my energy caring or finding out what their needs are? But there's less truth in that and more truth in the fact that I'm just not drawn to them or moved to care about them because I'm a little bit calloused and jaded.
Some of my early daydreams when I realized I wanted to be a psychologist set me in an office in La Jolla, wearing a tailored suit, charging $200/hr. Now I'm not sure I'm going to have clients who pay me. I'm pretty sure my checks will come from the government or some other obscure funding source. Speaking of La Jolla, the newspaper for a few days last week highlighted the landslide/sinkhole on Mt. Soledad Drive. multiple homes were completely lost, and peoples lives dramatically affected. and my response? "it's not like they don't have the money to rebuild." yep. cold-hearted. I used to babysit for 2 different families on that street. Rich young couples that I suddenly care less about because they have money???
Why didn't Jesus hang out with the rich like he did the poor? He told the rich to give away all they had and follow him. But does this justify my insensitivity? How did he treat the tax collectors? When I see a man in a suit I offer little more than a quick, courteous smile. But when I see someone in dirty clothes wandering the streets, my heart aches and I begin to pray. I KNOW the rich guy's got problems. Maybe he's got food to eat, but is he known and loved?? His problems are less obvious, but still real. Which demographic am I supposed to care about as a Christian? I'm pretty sure the answer is to love my neighbors. all of them.
Lord teach me to love indiscriminately. to value my brothers and sisters and to be the neighbor you've called me to be, instead of thinking I need to save up my energy by selectively choosing my neighbors...choosing who I deem worthy enough of my limited supply of love...let your everlasting love be given through me. Thank you for pouring out your grace and mercy so lavishly on all your children.