So, a well-known Christian group, one of those who spend a lot of time telling other Christians how to think, act, and – most important of all, vote properly – has come up with a new campaign – “What Would Jesus Cut?” Seriously. They have spent untold $$ manufacturing and delivering cheesy plastic bracelets to members of Congress with just that pithy message pressed into the plastic.
And, it apparently takes some serious money to get this message across. From today’s email:
“We’re ready to make our call to action even louder. We must raise $35,000 in order to rally even more Christians. We’ll speak out on behalf of the hungry and vulnerable – via email, Facebook ads, and maybe even radio ads. We need you to push this over the top. Give today! Your gift will help us reach another 1.5 million Christians (if not thousands more).”
They go on to declare that “The cuts that Congress continues to debate will slam the doors on early education for 200,000 of America’s poorest children. They’ll slice food aid to other nations, including millions of refugees, in half – immediately. These cuts could kill.”
I find this hard to swallow from an organization that just spent tens of thousands of dollars or more on plastic bracelets and Facebook ads.
Friends, the U.S. Government is broke, and it got that way in a great part by trying to take on the responsibilities of the church and the local community to care for the poor. If children need early education, then the churches closest to those children should be running free preschools. If there are hungry anywhere, Christians need to be putting their personal and congregational resources toward feeding them. That’s what Jesus said to do.
In Matthew 22:19-22, Jesus talked about government and money. “Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
In John 21:17, he talked about what we were to do if we love him, “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.”
As always, God is wise in this command. Government is the single most ineffective delivery system of aid, education, or just about anything else. About two cents out of every dollar budgeted for programs to the poor actually gets to a person living in poverty. Along the way, a giant bureaucracy eats up everything else. The only way I can think of to waste more money than that is to send it to some organization who wants to use it for plastic and advertising. How many refugees do you suppose $35,000 would feed if given to an organization that uses 2% or less for administrative costs?
Personally, this is very challenging to me. I know I don’t do enough, don’t give enough of myself or my money. I need to do more. Most of us do. Jesus not only asked for our treasure, he asked for our own selves – our time, our energy, our thoughts, our prayers, to feed his sheep and care for his lambs. It hurts my heart when a large, visible organization who wears the Christian Activist label indulges in self-promotion and misguided political involvement instead of just doing what Jesus’ asked us each to do. Government will never, ever be able to feed the poor, educate the children, heal the brokenhearted, or bring peace. Only God can do that, through his people guided by the Holy Spirit. That’s the only way. The rest is just nonsense.