Friday, August 22, 2014

Where is the Love?

I am not a fan of television evangelists usually  but tonight while I was working on something Joel Osteen came on  my screen. I have heard some church-going Christians scoff and call him "the feel-good preacher." The times I've listened to him, I enjoyed his inspirational sermons that left me feeling uplifted instead of down on myself, accusing myself of being a bad, sinful person as the preachers of my youth often made me feel.

Tonight his subject was love for those who are different from us. He asks that we not judge people by their appearances or the mistakes they have made. He says we should love everybody. He said that Jesus made it simple. "Don't judge and you won't be judged."

I perked up when I heard his talk tonight. He was speaking my mind, my thoughts, about how our culture today has become so judgmental. If you are on Facebook and read the comments there, you know how mean-spirited people are. If you don 't believe as they do, they post hate-filled comments. Some people I know have had death threats against them because they voiced their political beliefs.

It is easy to judge people but it is not so easy to love those who are different, the poor, the unfortunate and often sick people who are homeless, those who are not like us, have different ways to worship or who do not worship our God. I found it amazing that this preacher tonight said that his God loves every person no matter whether they are Christian or Muslim. 

It seems to me that the very people who should love the poor, help the poor, and want to do what is right, are often the ones who want Medicaid cut, are against the idea of equal insurance for all, don't want their tax money to go toward helping people who are down on their luck or who have lost jobs and can't keep a roof over the heads of their children. In our  local newspaper there is a  page devoted to churches. We probably have more different churches in our little county than any other in North Carolina. The  opinion of most who write on that page each week speak more of hatred and judgement than they do of love. 

I come from a family that worked hard on a farm in south Georgia. Empathy for those who struggled in this life was instilled in us by our parents. Mother gave food to hobos who got off the freight trains near the house my family lived in during the depression, yet my father had no job and their little store and filling station went broke. That was before I was born, but I grew up hearing those stories and I have never forgotten the lessons they taught me. No matter how little we have, we can always find something to share with others. 

I  like the quote, "Let your life be a lesson to others." That was how my mother lived. When my father had more vegetables in his garden than we could eat, she took them to her relatives and friends. When someone helped at our house, she went home with a couple of  bags of something she could use for her family as well as her cash payment. I have no idea of how much my mother sent to charities through the mail even though she never had money to spend on herself. My father was always fair with his workers, paying the most he could for their work. 

It was only after my family became more financially secure that I saw some members change their attitude. Isn't that strange? The poor want to help the poor, but the wealthy who have security and have enough money become stingy and hoard their wealth. I hear these affluent people expound on the laziness of those who are poor and declare they think the government should stop all aid to indigent people. "I don't want my tax money going to those deadbeats."

Sadly we have what  is called " the working poor" and many of them just can't get ahead no matter how hard they try. I know good  people who work hard and still barely get by. Some become ill and need assistance. One woman has fought cancer for a number of years with  surgery after surgery but she still works as much as she can. Her husband is disabled and she is the sole bread winner in that family. Without some government assistance they would be homeless. But there are people who would say, "just let them die." My friend told me today that a member of  her church said those words when they were out for dinner one day. Those are the Christians that Joel Osteen was speaking to tonight on his program; those who go to church every time the doors are open,  but have no love in their heart for anyone but themselves. 

Recently I was touched when  a single mother who makes minimum wage at best told me she tries to help some of the charities that send her requests. "I tell them I can't send but a couple of dollars, and I hope it helps." 

My other concern is that churches are constantly taking in donations to send overseas - mission work - but often their members don't want to help people in their own state or community. Maybe it is easier to send money than to look around and see those who are right in front of you.

"There but for the grace of God go I." Could it be that we don't want to think about  that? Is that why we write a check to a faceless entity to ease our conscious?

After hurricane Katrina decimated an entire city and thousands of  people, I heard condemnation of those who lost their homes and everything they had. How on earth could those people be blamed for what happened? 

I have never been more proud than I was of my sister, Gay, who took one family under her wing and helped turn around their lives. The family of five took refuge in Atlanta and ended up at Gay's church which gave them some assistance. My loving, non-judgmental sister, spent weeks helping this family find an apartment, get furniture for it and did what she could to counsel the distraught mother of three children who were now homeless. 

My sister didn't think, "Oh well, I'm just one person.  I can't do much."
Read my interview with that Katrina survivor here.


DJan said...

I went over to read the interview before commenting. It's such a wonderful story, but as is often the case in life, it's still an ongoing situation. I wish Linda only the best and hope that she will become well known everywhere! Great story and very inspirational. Thank you! :-)

Glenda Beall said...

Thanks for reading the interview, DJan. Yes, the Katrina disaster will be a long time project for New Orleans and the country. But we seem to have more and more of the working poor in all of our towns and rural areas, especially. In NC and in GA real estate and home sales are improving in the cities, but rural areas, not so much. I live in a rural area where there are few rentals available now. Some have lost million dollar homes. But the poor can't find reasonable rentals for their families.

Gay said...

As always, you zero in on what matters in life. Thank you for your kind words about me, but especially for the interview with Linda. I'm sure it will help her, but even if it doesn't, she will appreciate someone caring. We all do, don't we? I thank you for caring enough to help the single mother you know who needs so much. sometimes it seems the more we do the less seems to change, but the important thing is that we continue to help.

Glenda Beall said...

Yes, Gay, you nailed it. The important thing is we continue to help those who need it. I appreciate, so much, the donations by my family and friends for the local family that needed to move. Things are looking up for them but life is still hard.
Makes me think of that old song, "If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be."