Ignoring neighbors in need: When Bible believers claim Christian values but lack any capacity for love
They would not help people. Not one of them. They all voted no on giving aid to Americans during the single greatest health crisis of our lifetimes: one that has taken the lives of over a half a million Americans and left millions more at the precipice of poverty and homelessness — or well beyond it.
They chose not to bring comfort or rest or peace to the assailed, harassed, and helpless in front of them. Not the Atheists, not the Muslims, not the humanists; not the Buddhists, Jews, Sikhs, or Wiccans or Humanists.
The Christians did this. The religious liberty crowd. The sanctity of life people. The Bible believers. The God Bless America folks.
Over and over this week, these perpetually self-identifying followers of a healer, feeder, helper Jesus were faced with the crushing grief and the lingering hunger and the overwhelming fear of the people in their path (people literally starving and dying, people they were positioned, empowered, and capable of helping) — and they defiantly refused.
It seems the Bible they so claim to love was of little use.
They were not the Good Samaritan stopping to tend to the wounds of a victim laying bruised and bloodied on the sidewalk, they were the callous religious elites who could not be bothered and who walked right by as they turned their heads away.
They were not willing imitators of an empathetic Jesus feeding a disparate hillside multitude whose hunger he could not abide, they were a crowd of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” “God helps those who help themselves,”middle-finger raising taunters.
They were not a kind collective reflection of a “love your neighbor as yourself” Christ in a time when such a tangible expression was desperately needed, but a gated community of privileged, sanctified, full-bellied frauds whose fists were closed tightly around blessings of abundance that they would not share.
And most telling of all, on a day when the public servants across the aisle actually embodied the namesake of their religious tradition by making sure that people were helped and lifted and rescued from the terrors of this day — these professed Jesus people were miserable.
Their neighbors actually receiving love was a battle they had lost. It was a defeat they suffered. It was a reality that worked tirelessly to avoid. While millions found space within their chests to finally expand their lungs and breathe for a second — they were joyless.
And when these same religious people soon lament a generation leaving the Church, when they openly grieve the rapid exodus from their ranks, when they wonder aloud why Jesus is being rejected, we will remind them of days like this one: a day when all their sanctimony and sermonizing and culture war rhetoric burned away in the searing light of the actual need in front of them.
I don’t know how to make these Christians want to help other people, but I do know one thing: if you refuse to attend to the open wounds and the hunger pangs and the real nightmares of the hurting and terrified human beings you share this space with — you have no Jesus left in you and you probably need to drop the facade altogether.
So, they can keep calling themselves Christians while being functionally Christ-less and they can tearfully wave around a Bible they refuse to read, and they can complain about attacks on a religious liberty they clearly have no interest in exercising, and they can preach a selective Good News that is only for the white and wealthy.
And the rest of us (the spiritual and the irreligious alike) we’ll be out here together crafting generous, interdependent community where everyone is seen, everyone is treasured, no one goes hungry, and no one dies of need while surrounded by abundance.
All the backsliders, heathens, apostates, black sheep, and sinners will convene to get about the work of caring in a way they were not willing to or capable of.
Together, we will do what these so-called Christians cannot find the decency to do: we will love our neighbors, we will heal wounds, we will fill bellies, we will embrace the outcast, we will spread the wealth around — and we will help people live today.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com
John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.