DISTURBING THE DISTURBED

It’s not a biblical proverb, but perhaps it should have been. Disturb the comforted and comfort the disturbed. Words I almost live by here at Fat Beggars.

This certainly is a filter through which I see the world and address it. But I will stop short of calling it biblical or treating it as such – at least in some binding fashion. However, it makes a pretty good description of Jesus’s own life and ministry.

The thing is, though, I sense I have disturbed the disturbed.

That can happen when preaching to the choir.

Any who read here avidly (ahem… both avid readers that is) should recognize what I mean when I say the comments from my recent post, TWO WIDOW’S (DYNA)MITES, drew comment from my friend and fellow worker, Agent DC.

I could sing the praises of Agent DC, but this post would be too long AND he would chafe badly. Even with a pseudonym, he does not want that kind of attention.

I am not his judge, but I see the tremendous (and that is a small word for it) personal sacrifice he makes both regularly and irregularly to love people in need. I thank God for his example in my life! At the same time, he has confessed to me much of his own sins, and I recognize his greatness in humility characterizes a man with feet of clay. I get all of that, and I do not wish to sort it out.

BUT, I know he has a very sensitive heart. Very sensitive. And I know it is disturbed. And I see that I disturb his heart, something I do not wish.

In this post, I want to straighten out a bit of my thinking in hopes of getting the comfort and disturbance in their right places. I do not wish to backtrack at all, but I hope to fine tune my point.

In my widow’s mite post, LIKE SO MANY ELSWEHER TOO, I bring a hot light on the subject. To be clear, I am not saying, nor do I think (necessarily), that the Bible demands we all sell everything we own, give it to the poor, and go follow Jesus. I am fully aware that some Bible heroes were wealthy and never did that. So, I do not make a blanket assertion that each and everyone of us disciples today must follow that rule or face judgment.

Read my post carefully, and notice I never said such a thing.

However, I give oxygen to that idea and definitely make room for the notion that it can and probably does apply to at least some of us if not a lot of us.

I react against a system (a church, a doctrine, a praxis, a culture etc.) that otherwise denies such a notion in hundreds of ways almost all the time.

This idea came home to roost for me over a decade back when our local newspaper in Lubbock printed a story about some anonymous person who went downtown and found homeless people (mostly) and gave away one hundred dollar bills. The giver remained anonymous, thus seemingly in observance of Jesus’s directive in Matthew 6 about giving in secret and not tooting your own horn. But the newspaper article did not praise this anonymous giver. Instead, they asked “Pastor Bates” the director of one of the bigger homeless outreach ministries in town, what he thought about it, and that guy outlined all the damage it did.

Damage.

Pastor Bates didn’t stop there. He directed the public not to give to the poor at all, but rather to give to the ministry – one such as his own. (No chance that is selfish!) His idea was that many of the homeless, poor, and needy folx out there are addicts who use that money to drink or get high. (I don’t dispute that it happens.) That kind of giving, therefore, is a waste at best and harms people at worst, or so goes the logic. (I dispute that.)

But Pastor Bates never once acknowledged that Jesus instructs us to give in secret, that he never cautions about the damage it might do, and … and that is when it hit me… he didn’t acknowledge that Jesus instructed a rich man to sell all and do pretty much exactly what this anonymous giver had done.

I didn’t know the anonymous giver, and so I don’t know if he sold all he owned in order to give those hundred dollar bills. But I am sure it wouldn’t take too many of them to wipe me out! So, it is entirely POSSIBLE that the anonymous giver followed Jesus’s teaching to that rich man in Mark 10 to the T! If he did, he surely was a sensitive soul, not unlike Agent DC.

But, then I had a truly awful gut feeling about it.

What if the man was rich and did that?

If he did, then a week or so later, he reads what some local pastor in the newspaper thinks about it.

Put yourself in those shoes a moment.

You just liquidated your fortune, gave it all to the poor, and right while you are counting all your blessings in heaven, you read in the paper where some pastor – shepherd you trust – characterizes your discipleship as damaging and harmful.

Do you think he might second-guess himself now? Might feel bad?

That has got to be a kick in the gut! A kick in the teeth, as we used to say.

Wow!

Of course, we will not know whether that is the actual case this side of the Age to Come, but it could be. And a pastor worth his salt should either be sensitive to that or ready to retract such a statement upon being confronted about it.

Ahhh…. But this is Lubbock, Texas where the sentiment expressed by Pastor Bates speaks for the church, not the Bible!

My remarks in my post do not actually presuppose that giving everything to the poor is binding on you, but I am forceful about giving the notion a real chance.

I hope Agent DC is not too disturbed, but I am glad for his sensitivity.

To be frank, I can easily imagine selling stuff off, giving the money to the church, and then living off the communal interest there IF MY CHURCH were interested in following Jesus like that.

It occurs to me that I have one lawn mower which sits in my shed all week long, sometimes two weeks long, going unused all that time. I only need the thing three or four days a month! If I sold it, gave the money to the poor, and my brothers at church did the same with theirs, except for keeping one or two which we all share, that would be over $300 per giver given to the poor AND a lesson in sharing for me and my brothers!

Compound that thinking for cars, food, boats, campers, toys, clothes, and on and on, and we could just about end poverty in Lubbock by year’s end.

But that would require both honoring Jesus and one another at levels to which we currently are happy only giving lip service.

But, I am clear that two widow’s mites are of more value in the kingdom than all the massive overflow we currently put into the offering box, and that is more powerful than me selling my lawn mower.

4 comments

  1. Pastor Randy · November 4

    Well said X!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. harolene · November 5

    Without castigating on anyone’s motive or character, I hope, has anyone checked to see where the money, how the money is allocated? I have given at times to hurt, to the point my family threatened to take my checkbook away from me, and a lot of times without thanks but you know what? If we give to her praise then we really are no different than the pastor who clearly wanted the money donated to himself. God forgive me for judging. Carry on 😇

    Liked by 1 person

  3. harolene · November 5

    Should have checked before I hit send, not checking to see how the people who received spent the money but how the one who complained would spend it. Also if we give to receive praise … not her 😂 too early to think.

    Liked by 1 person

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