This post is from my perspective encompassing what we witnessed on Thursday regarding the people left in poverty in Chicago. Though these are my views, my intention is to incorporate things we’ve learning in class and how they relate to my personal beliefs.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39b.
Watching the situation of the people in the city of Chicago who suffer from poverty broke my heart. The people who were shanghaied by the government in section 8 housing was tragic. When the documentarian Schodorf speaks to one woman there about the cycle of poverty as something that traps the kids especially, leading them to truancy, and then often drugs and crime. However, what affected me the most, was perhaps the area where I am the most passionate the suffering of the people.
The documentary and myself are more inclined to see the human level of these people. The man at the end of the documentary, named Brian, was seized with joy at Schodorf’s remembering of his name. It is that human element I am concerned with. Shklar spoke of the need for welfare, and that it is called so in error; she states that it’s a need, not a want, like roads or bridges, but is demonized as a handout (Shklar 100). She and I agree that relief is needed for the people who are in such straits. However, her focus still seems more on the definition of citizenship. The need for sacrifice is real, regardless of why different people feel that way. The need for people to help is real. Many believe the government is needs to be the abiding helpful entity, and I do believe that is part. The divergence is, that I believe the desire to help should be a conviction, especially for Christians. I am called to be willing to share my possessions fearlessly. Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me,” (Matthew 19:21).
This is pastor and author Francis Chan:
The idea of the Mission could be a great aspect of Christians who have showing the love of Christ, but I feel it is warped into a coercive religious organization. The idea should be to love people where they are. It should be to give the men who come in what they need. The Gospel is a choice. Many of the men found that they would rather live outside or in some shanty rather than in the Mission. Apparently, treatment there is more brusque and oppressive than the people who work there admit. As a future pastor and Christian, I can tell you that this aspect of the Mission is not particularly Biblical. I am called to love people and present them the choice of the Gospel. I’m called to treat them like brothers and sisters.
These people need care. They need people to have compassion for them. I’m not saying that only Christians can care; far from it. I’m saying that all real Christians should really care. There either is a lack of willingness to give, not because people are bad, but because they get comfortable (the people who ignore the need), or a tendency to treat religion like a profession (the coercion of the Mission). To quote the movie ‘Robots,’ the Christian thing to do would be to “See a need, and fill a need”: no agenda, no complacency, just love.