Let’s Talk About Welfare (and be cool about it)

It saddens me that I have seen multiple forms of this message posted on the social networks by my Christ-following friends. Does this communicate a heart for the hurting?

I have my own opinions about welfare. I also have a few thoughts about immigration. But I’ll do my best to keep them to myself for now. What I want to talk about today is not the actual subjects of welfare and immigration, but the general tone and attitude a follower of Christ ought to have when discussing the issues around helping those in need.

To be honest, I intended to write about something completely different today (prenatal behavior as a sign that we are actually made in the image of God). But this morning, I happened to read Jesus’ “Olivet Discourse” from Matthew chapters 24-25 and suddenly had flashes of CNN and Fox News making my quiet time not so quiet (plus, there was a little bit of Jon Stewart in there as well).

For my Christian friends – when you talk about issues like welfare and immigration reform, do you consider any of the following:

  • that you can’t be 100% sure the person you’re talking to hasn’t ever needed temporary assistance (or has a loved one who either has needed or does need it)?
  • that offending people over these issues will likely cripple your credibility as a follower of Jesus?
  • that you represent Jesus Christ, the greatest humanitarian that has ever lived (he was certainly willing to give up his rights for the good of everyone)?

I’ve heard many compelling arguments for and against government-run assistance. I’ve heard many compelling arguments related to immigration reform – both for and against the President’s Immigration Policy. But what I have not heard is evidence that Jesus’ heart for the hurting is present in the hearts of His followers. If you’re curious about Jesus’ attitude toward helping those who are in need, look at what Matthew recalls in chapter 25:

Unrighteous: “Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see You without clothes? When did we see You sick or in Jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?

King: “I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, you ignored Me.”

(Matthew 5:44-45, THE VOICE translation. Emphasis belongs to the publication.)

I want to make it clear that I am not using this passage of scripture to support one stance over the other in regard to welfare or immigration reform (but please feel free to ponder Jesus’ thoughts on the issues). These are both multi-faceted governmental issues, and I don’t want to demean the complexity of them by cherry picking Bible verses to support a political viewpoint. But what I want to make clear is this: If you are going to profess to the world that you are a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ – then you need to be willing to talk about these issues in a way that communicates your devotion to Jesus above all else. And I believe that if you are truly a follower of Jesus, it is possible to communicate your stance on any political issue from a platform of love for the lost.

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5 comments

  1. Tracy Goodwin

    I may not be religious but I really like this piece. We need far more calls for civility in the public discourse on most subjects. None of our problems will ever get solved if we can’t even talk about them rationally without resorting to attacking each other or their beliefs.

    Thank you for being one more person to call for civility.

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