One of my friends makes the audacious claim that our attempts to save others may prove a waste of time as those same others may actually be the location of our own healing.
Immediately we shudder, that is we who identify as Christian, noting that, “We do not save anyone.” Sure. But, when we Christians went missional, that is re-engaging the missio dei, suddenly once ignored groups took up space in our line of sight.
Salvation As Healing
Once again the least of these became the locus of activities in which Christians, particularly Evangelical Christians, participate, hoping to display compassion and empathy associated with the Way of Jesus. The move runs perilously close to satisfying a messiah complex that often underlies much of what we do. So, yes, we do not save people, but we act as though we do.
But, what if my friend is on to something? What if the least of these are actually those who save us? What if it is in our engagement with the least of these that we are freed from our own captivity to a way that is distinctly not the Way of Jesus in the world?
The Least of These
Consider this. Recent projections put the human population at more than 9 Billion by 2050. That is 9 followed by nine digits. We in the West, often as unwitting accomplices, participate in a system that is rooted in the need for open markets to keep our economy, a consumerist variety, humming.
Our foreign and domestic policies tend to be influenced by economic factors. Whatever ensures access to the goods and services to which we have become accustomed becomes the basis for political action. This is what we do for a current population of about 350 Million people in the U.S. West, or 5% of the world’s population.
What happens when we discover there is a small group of people, numbering no more than 100,000, and that comprises .000014% or the world’s population, might experience better health and longevity if they had access to the most rudimentary health care available? Surely they represent the least of these! Is it possible that together, just a small percentage of the population in the United States, our Facebook networks for instance, could crowd fund $24,000 to meet that need?
And, if we did, who would be saved? Yes, there would be fewer infants and children die from preventable illnesses. Others would be helped as they battle diabetes and hypertension, issues we experience as inconvenient but manageable. Sure, physically their lives would be better and children would have the hope of their own future and the future well-being of their parents beyond what they currently expect. Of course, there would be opportunities to explain the love of Jesus as our motivation.
Then again, it could be we who are saved from the onslaught of the promise that with just one more purchase our lives will be better. That next product will make our lives more meaningful and worthwhile. Maybe this is what my friend means by the location of our healing may actually be found in the poor and the homeless. Their captivity may be due to the very way in which we participate in the world as it is thinking we are helping them all the while blind to our own task masters.
Maybe They Help Us Heal
Here is an opportunity to initiate a practice that may well unshackle us from the petulant need for the next best thing that we know will really not improve the value and meaning of our lives, not one bit.
Join me and others who have taken up this cause to provide basic health care through a health post in Guatemala. The Pokomchi truly represent the least of these and as such may be one of the locations where you and I must might find our own life healed from the fractures created by a culture that is always selling you on more is better.
What do you say? Would you donate $10?
Image Credit – 7 Billion