Okay, did anybody peek?
In my last post I talked about how the American Church is known for very strongly prioritising things that, frankly, don’t come across that heavily in Bibilical prioritisation, but I didn’t make it to the things God DOES prioritise.
So what does God prioritise?
The Poor and the Vulnerable
God makes a big deal out of these folks.
In fact, God prioritises the poor and vulnerable – specifically, making sure they have justice and meeting their needs – more than any other specific group that I can find. I get the impression they are more important to him than pretty much anything else except our relationship with HIM.
And actually, I suspect one reason they get so much Biblical air time is because of what our treatment of them says about our relationship with him.
How we treat those who can’t certainly repay us, or enforce any demand upon us, says a lot about who we are, don’t you think?
God also mentions the rich a fair amount, but in not one single place does he say ‘You, my disciples, should do everything you can to be rich, or to make sure the rich get richer.’
In fact, he’s got some fairly disturbing things to say about Christians focusing our energies on the rich.
And what he says TO the rich is frequently a warning to be very, very careful because wealth and godliness are a tough combination to get right. *
Justice and Mercy
This is another focus to which he gives pretty solid weight.
Interestingly, from the wisdom of the Proverbs, through to the specific and very clear instruction in Isaiah, and on to pretty much every word Jesus ever said on earth, God, who is both completely just and completely merciful, reserves most of the justice work for his end of the deal and focuses our work largely on the mercy end of things.
I suspect this is because he is perfect, trustworthy, and objective in all things, and we are not.
When God does discuss justice in reference to our work, I generally find that he’s on our case about the fact that we are preventing others from getting that justice – usually, you guessed it: the poor, the vulnerable (widows, orphans, aliens in our homelands), and such.
So where does that leave me?
In a philisophitheologicadocrinal show down between Guns Gays and Abortion Vs the Poor, the Widow and the Orphan, what’s a poorly trained Christian girl to do?
In my case, the answer so far is go with what you know.
And what I know, so far, is that it makes sense to prioritise the most important parts of your message, so it probably makes sense to devote my greatest energy to those things God emphasised most.
And what I see God emphasising, old testament and new, is:
- The widow, the orphan, the poor, the stranger.
- Watching my own behaviour and transforming that to his mandate, but not judging others’ behaviour. (Which, does not, as best I can understand, mean that I should be a dope or a doormat, and trust or align myself with those who are clearly going to harm me or others.)
- Acting in humility and love, even when that is uncomfortable.
- Using wisdom and seeking direction.
- Putting HIS priorities before mine, even when THAT is uncomfortable.
These things not only don’t reinforce a Guns, Gays and Abortion stance as the right priority for a girl seeking to live as a Christian, they are painfully opposed to much that has resulted from that view.
And my policy, when caught between God and Man, is go with God every time. (I’ve read the end of the story; God wins.)
SO, I after a couple years of reading the real Bible, and using my real God-given brains on what I found there, I came to the conclusion that I had to change some of the views and beliefs I had picked up from my Christian culture, just as I had had to do with my larger societal culture.
- I started looking at policies, personal choices, values in light of what I saw there. And I changed what I put my energy into.
- I changed how I pray.
- I eventually changed how I vote – started choosing political candidates based on the whole of their platform, and on the BIG PICTURE impacts of it, not just their rhetoric about THE BIG THREE.
It’s yet another opportunity to not fit in ANYWHERE!
But then I’ve gotten used to that over the years.
And it makes it possible for me to vote, and live, and think, in ways that reflect what I really believe, which takes a remarkable amount of stress out of the Christian life.
Every once in a while I even remember that God is omniscient and omnipotent and could probably run the whole thing without my input!
* Just a smattering of those verses: