Daily Dose, April 27 — My Brother’s Keeper

 

God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgement: “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

I say, “You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you! (Psalm 82:1-8)

I developed a certain mantra many years ago. This repeated saying was a way to remind me of something important. It was also something I would gently remind others who were a part of my church staff. The mantra reminded us of the fact that we often pass judgments on others because their expressed behavior doesn’t line up with our own values, even when we know nothing of the circumstances leading to their behavior. This was particularly true when I would hear others speak critically of people who found themselves in places of need and were approaching the church for assistance (an act which often, in and of itself, took great courage and humility). The mantra that I developed: “Unhealthy people do unhealthy things.” While I realize the mantra may be radically oversimplified, its power to refocus me was always profound. Rather than focusing on the things I saw (their behaviors or circumstances), it forced me to think about the things that might not be so readily visible. What things have happened in that person’s life to cause them to need help paying the rent this month? Has something happened with important relationships in their life that have shaken them to the core? Have they experienced unexpected job loss and all of the stress and anxiety that can come from that? Have they found themselves in need of medical care with insufficient means to pay for it? If I had to choose between medicine and rent, what would I choose? Would I even be able to choose, or would I feel paralyzed? Regardless of what I may see (their actions, behaviors and circumstances), is there a healthy or unhealthy person underneath it all? Even as I would ask this, I would think of the unhealthy places in my own life and how the lack of health can manifest in unwise or unhealthy behaviors. And without really knowing it, I would see the person sitting across from me as more like me than unlike me. I was able to approach them with genuine care and concern. I would discern the tendencies to judge and stereotype slowly fall away. What often happened next was an opportunity for me -- as a representative of the church -- to offer assistance to that person. Over the years, I’ve been able to offer help to every “type” of person mentioned in the psalm: the weak and fatherless, the afflicted and destitute, the needy. Unhealthy people do unhealthy things…including me…and including you. May Christ give us the ability to give care and cure to the unhealthy! -- Rev. Brad Greene