The Forgotten Middle
The pandemic has changed everything. From the way we teach our children to the way we grocery shop, not much of life looks the same right now as it did a year ago. It’s emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausting. Most of us are experiencing crisis fatigue.
We’ve all seen the stats that say somewhere close to 80% of people were living paycheck to paycheck BEFORE the pandemic. Most people were in debt before the pandemic—one crisis away from financial ruin. So many of us are working hard to make ends meet and the ends just keep getting farther apart. This isn’t theoretical for me—I’ve been one of these people more times than I like to count.
We are taught in society to keep that to ourselves. It’s a dark secret that we are not to share. Admitting we need help is interpreted as weakness. Shame is an ugly thing.
You would think the church would be different. But don’t we hide these things just as much within the church walls as we do outside? We smile, say good morning, dress in our Sunday best, and pretend that all is well when we know that it’s going to be hard to gas up the car later that day with the three dollars we have left in our checking account.
Like the duck that smoothly glides across the water while its feet pedal furiously below the surface.
The pandemic has brought the financial crisis of a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle to the forefront of many people’s lives. We, as a church, cannot overlook this.
Helping the poor should be core value for every Church, regardless of denomination and regardless of culture. The Church has outsourced care of the poor. We look to secular government programs rather than assuming responsibility to help “the least of these” in our own backyard.
We often do a better job of helping the poor in other countries than we do in our own cities. I think a strong biblical case could be made for prioritizing local needs. It’s disingenuous to raise funds and send teams to the ends of the earth when we aren’t making a good faith effort with those closest to us. People in our communities. People in our churches.
Paul tells the church in Galatia, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” He says to them and to us, “Pay special attention to the needs that are right in front of you.”
In our rush to help the “least of these” outside of the church walls, is it possible we’ve stepped over people in need in our family? Or even worse, do we not even know the ones in need because no one feels comfortable in our church to truly let their guard down?
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the massive needs in the world. Because of social media we are inundated with news of these needs every day. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the needs in our own city. How can we hope to make a difference? It can feel like pouring a thimble of water into a desert.
Let’s lean in hard to the Holy Spirit and ask God to open our eyes to the needs close to us—the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that are hidden but present in our faith families and neighbors.
We may not be able to end slavery or solve world hunger, but we can make a profound difference in someone’s life and that is not insignificant. May the Spirit of Jesus fill us in such a way that He reaches through our lives to touch the needs around us. May we become His embrace to those within arms reach.
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