One day a vision came my way
About a Christian found today
A Christian who’s supposed to be caring
A Christian who’s supposed to be sharing
But instead a man who would knock his brother down
Is what I found
And he is called a Christian
And in accord with his belief
He gives his money for relief
To help the needy and to help mankind
Or is it just to satisfy his mind
He’s so generous with his property and wealth
But not himself
And he is called a Christian
And I was saddened to behold
This vision of a heart so cold
And as it started to dim quickly
I cried out “Help me Lord that I might see!”
What he showed me made me want to turn and flee
For it was me…
And I am called a “Christian”
- C. Doucette
Pardon the language, but I suck when it comes to helping the poor. My church does too. Then again, I am even worse when it comes to being involved in the lives of the poor. I/We give financially to charities working with the poor, but that seems to be about it. The song was written by a friend of mine, and we used to sing it at churches around town in the early eighties. As I look at my life now, it pretty much sums it up.
Perhaps it is related to the fact that I am typing this on my laptop, sitting on a comfortable house, in my comfortable home, in my comfortable suburb. Or in the words of the parody by Scott Wesley Brown which I also used to sing: “I’ll serve you here in suburbia, in my comfortable middle class life.” How is it that I have become that which I ridiculed when I was younger?
It wasn’t always that way. In my university years I befriended poor families, helped their kids with homework, and took them to events. This wasn’t something that was forced, it was part of who I was.
Now I am wrapped up in work, kids activities, and church. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of time for much else. I am not alone in this, and I think suburbia does take some of the blame. Just a couple of weeks ago my next door neighbor met the neighbor who lives diagonally across from me for the first time. They have both lived in their respective houses for over twenty years! We get so busy that we don’t even get to meet our neighbors let alone the poor who don’t frequent our suburbs.
I am disheartened by this, and I know I have set a bad example for my kids. I see how they are becoming increasingly materialistic. I don’t like it, but I know that it is my fault. I am not sure how to get out of this rut that I am in. Like Sir Isaacs Newton’s first law: “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it.”
I don’t want to be completely negative with this post. There is a group that has sprung up in my part of the world that I wish was around when I was younger and when my future was still very fluid. MoveIn seeks to be salt and light in the neediest neighborhoods in the city. In the four years since its inception over 200 have joined them to become missionaries to their inner city neighborhoods. What this group is doing is an inspiration to me and may be what gets me moving again. I am called a “Christian”. I pray that the vision in the song might be replaced by one that is like the vision of MoveIn.
The MoveIn Vision
John 1:14 says, “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Or, as The Message paraphrases it, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
MoveIn is about copying Jesus’ example (Phil. 2:5-7) by literally moving in to the neighbourhood.
We have discovered that something amazing happens when a group of Christians intentionally moves into a neighbourhood to pray (Acts 1:14) and be. In doing so, they have chosen to become part of the neighbourhood. Rather than visiting or serving and then going away, they will share in their neighbourhood’s joys (Rom. 12:15), and in its troubles (Rom. 8:17); and they will have an opportunity to be right in there as salt (Matt. 5:13) and light (Matt 5:14) – as the hands and feet of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27; Matt. 25:35-40) – with a cup of cold water in one hand (Mark 9:41) and the good news (Isa. 52:7) in the other.
We are encouraging all young Christians to ask themselves to move where they move on purpose and to challenge their default motivations. Sadly, it seems to have become the norm for Christians to move into a neighbourhood not because of the need or because of a calling to reach it, but because it is convenient. Furthermore, neighbourhoods that are inconvenient or unsafe are avoided.
It is time for Christians to move into neighbourhoods because they are not safe – to move into neighbourhoods that are messy and have high crime rates, high poverty rates, low standards of living, and a disproportionate representation of Christ.
“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation.” Paul, Romans 15:20
It is also time for those who move into suburbs and other lower-needs neighbourhoods to do so on purpose – prayerfully, seriously, communally.
As we ‘move in’, we pray also that we would be part of the fulfillment of the prayer for more people to go where the “labourers are few” but the “harvest is plentiful” (Matt. 9:37) on the other side of the world – where people have never heard of Jesus, and where–in some cases–they live in slums and sleep in refuse that is physical, economic, social, emotional, environmental, or spiritual in nature.
We are moving in because Christ did it first (Eph. 5:1). We are praying for big things because we serve a big God (Psalm 8). We are confident that He will go before us (Isa. 45:2), that he will never leave us (Heb. 13:5-6), and that he will be with us right to the end (Matt 28:20). Through prayer and action, we pray that those we live among will experience Christ’s love themselves in a life-changing, life-giving, totally contagious kind of way (John 10:10) – for God’s glory.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9
By the way, if you liked the song, it is sung to the tune of “Sounds of Silence”.