May 1, 2012

A Foodie and the CROP Hunger Walk: Why I Am "Doing It"

Matthew 5:41-46 – “Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe Me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me’… Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Watch what it means here.

I blogged from this scripture recently, and it's a text that makes many people uncomfortable.

Years ago, I blogged about what it might feel like to be truly starving, very hungry, and not knowing how or where to get food. That post is here.

How many Christians feel more comfortable---and "righteous" condemning those who are "without" than in helping them, or finding ways to help them, or praying for insight and courage to find ways to help them? Why is this the case so often?

It is not pleasant to think about hunger in America, because we like to consider ourselves "the greatest country in the world" and in the greatest country in the world, there should not be millions of people living in an ongoing state of hunger. True, few people will actually die of hunger in the United States, but too many live with hunger and something can be done about it. 

The picture about of the empty refrigerator is one most of us will never see (unless we are moving or cleaning out). My guess is that many who are hungry do not have a completely empty refrigerator, but do not have enough food for everyone in the house to feel satisfied after a meal. My guess is that many who live alone and without enough money  are lacking enough food to stay healthy or get well. My guess is that the many teachers who buy and bring breakfast bars to school for their hungry students know that hunger has a strange face, a face we might not recognize at first sight.

The hunger situation in America is a true and deep challenge to the church.

Regardless of what we may think of how and why people have found themselves in a situation of persistent hunger or malnutrition, can we not see how the gospel compels us to help in some way? Throughout the Old and New Testament, God calls His people to be just and to help the poor. Maybe we are given that call because one day, all of us may need the assistance of others. Maybe we are given that call because when we act on it, we prove beyond question the authenticity of the gospel, of our redemption, of God's love and goodness expressed in and by those who say they are His children.

Nature and current events do not demonstrate the love of God. Nature is ruthless with the unprepared and untrained and unprotected. Current events are a picture of how deeply humanity can sink into barbarism without God. If nothing else, current events should chase us into holiness and service. Because there is so much pain and suffering in the world, our expression of authentic Christianity should be a showing of loving care for those who are hungry. Would you really preach a sermon or explain salvation to someone who hasn't had enough to eat and then condemn them for not believing the message?

The most basic way to say it is this: if you love souls, you will love bodies. Souls on Earth need bodies to live in and bodies need food.

I am participating the the CROP Hunger Walk this month. I urge you to find a CROP Hunger Walk near you this season and participate.

If you are too busy, I ask for your support as I participate.

Proverbs 14:21 – “The one who despises his neighbor sins, but whoever shows kindness to the poor will be happy.”

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