Separation or Discrimination

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

By a biased interpretation of this constitutional amendment the Supreme Court established discrimination against Christian Charitable Service. No Gospel oriented charitable service receives the same resources available to every 501C3 non-profit organization. Most Christians live unaware of this discrimination, it rarely makes news, it does not effect our middle class churches, so we accept this overt discrimination without much thought. The genesis of this discrimination also eludes many of us, but thanks to Google we find that the Court took an opportunity to exact their values, impose them, and change charity in our nation. A cursory study of separation of church and state leads us to the Everson case in 1947 about reimbursement of finance for bus fare. Wherein a family sought reimbursement for bus fare for the children’s rides to a private Christian school. Like many cases which change our world this one is rot with complexity and a misguided attack against the conscience of Christianity. The court in my opinion took a simple case and extrapolated it to create an atmosphere of legal discrimination and segregation against Christians. Whatever spirit led them to their conclusions, they recreated a nation’s law so that evangelizing Christians could not receive equal consideration for assistance in their work. The work of charitable organizations stand split between those who promote worldly values or compromise Christian values and those who serve God above all earthly power and know that His Gospel is the greatest help we have to offer. The split creates a very uneven pool of resources. Those secularized charities, who will compromise in adherence to the liberal view of the Supreme Court, have all the coffers of government, business, and the Church at their disposal. While evangelizing charities, those who hold to their faith and call before God, find all the government coffers and most of the business world’s coffers closed to them. On top of which much of the present day church often split their resources between the secularized charities and evangelizing charities.

Our secularized society embraces secularized charity, but oddly the Church often does not equally embrace evangelizing charities. Most people who understand the changes that brought us to our present segregated state are older members of the church. I am concerned that we have not done a proper job of teaching our young people about the importance of evangelism mixed with charitable action. Possibly because even many of our leaders do not see the importance of evangelizing as we work in the world. I offer four reasons why we should practice evangelism as we practice loving action or compassion. (Scripture would give us many more than four, but for brevity I will give only four.)

  • As a means to reveal God to unbelievers All OT laws of compassion and equity are evangelistic in part. Deuteronomy 4.6 “Observe them [God’s Laws] carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” 7 What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him?” This text explains that part of the purpose of Israel following the Laws of God was to display God’s character to the world around them. If Israel would have obeyed the Laws of financial equity they would have displayed to the world a society where all people were able to live on the land without poverty. All the Laws that would have created this society included the Law of Gleaning (leaving crops in the field for the poor), the year of Jubilee where all land was to be returned to its original owner, the canceling of debts every seven years, or the one third of the tithe which would in part care for strangers and the weak. Each of these financial Laws together would have created a unique equitable society – and thereby glorify God and His work among His people. Bearing witness then in the OT comes connected to equitable and compassion based Law. Witness and doing good always went together.
  • As a means of identifying with Jesus Jesus’s compassion and God’s love are not separate from ministry of the Gospel stands clearly revealed in Jesus’ statements about Himself. He identified Himself as the Messiah to His home town synagogue reading Isaiah 61 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor….[Luke 4.18] Then again when John the Baptist wondered if Jesus was the Messiah He answered in part with “…and the good news is preached to the poor” as a proof that He indeed is the Messiah. For Jesus ministry of the Gospel to people of need fulfilled His purpose and call. Thus to think that Jesus would consider mere feeding, painting facilities, and caring apart from the Gospel would leave the call and purpose of Christ incomplete.
  • As a means to continue the Apostle’s mission When the Apostle Paul explained his divine call he states that the other apostles added nothing to his Gospel, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Gal. 2.10. Paul understood the connection between compassion ministry and ministry of the Gospel. We know from Acts that Paul always proclaimed the Gospel of Christ, and he also labored very hard to ease the suffering caused by a famine in Israel. 2 Cor. 8-9 He encouraged Christians to give money to ease their brother’s suffering. Their giving was to be based upon Grace and the debt they owed to their brothers in Christ.
  • The practice of perfect compassion comes as a result of the Gospel alone Matthew characterizes Jesus’ ministry as, “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” (Mat. 4.23) and again, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” (Mat 9.35) In the Matthew 9 text Jesus moved with compassion while seeing a people helpless and harassed call His disciples to pray for laborers to go into the ripe harvest field. Jesus would not separate His message from His compassion, neither would He separate His compassion from His message. God cares for us body and soul. Jesus taught us to pray for daily bread, but also for the kingdom to come, for forgiveness, for deliverance from temptation and the evil one. Jesus taught us a compassion that worldly compassion cannot match. They may only offer food, clothing, or a paint job. We who know God may practice compassion as Jesus did, reaching to heal both body and soul.
  • In conclusion our government discriminates against Christian compassion. There follows an unfair distribution of resources, which favors secular charity and the secular message that follows. Furthermore, Christians live unaware of the disparity and send resources to secularizes charities. So the problems of poverty becomes more and more a problem only addressed by secular means. We live among the poor and watch secular institutions grow from grants, government funding, and the support of businesses and churches. Because of the Supreme Court we only have the Church as our means of support. All we have to do to get secular resources is separate our tutoring program, food program, and youth programs from the Gospel. Anathema!

    No other group in humanity possess the call and ability to evangelize.

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    About the Author:

    Dr. Brown the pastor of Military Ave. Church in one of America’s poorest neighborhoods since 1989 where he serves with his wife Barb. He holds D.min and M.div from Gordon-Conwell. He authored Justice Matters a book addressing compassion ministries among the poor. His children now grown still worship and serve at Military Ave. Church.

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