People connect to God in different ways (I’m an enthusiast, I think), and one of my favorite ways to experience God is through contemporary worship. I grew up with it, and I’ve continued to love it ever since. I feel that it’s best experienced live, so I was thrilled to have a chance this weekend to go see Crowder and MercyMe. It was a great experience, but there was one moment that got me thinking.
During a break between sets, someone came out and did a pitch for World Vision to sponsor a child. The speaker told a touching story about his experience of being adopted and raised by loving parents, and their decision to love him unconditionally despite not being “theirs”. He then told us that he recently visited El Salvador and met a young girl named Maria. Her older brothers were sponsored by World Vision, and she “couldn’t wait until someone in America will love me too!” The crowd was touched, and the speaker quoted James 1:27, saying that it is our duty to care for the orphan and the widow. At this point, as crowds usually do, there was clapping and cheering, and hands were shortly raised all across the arena to sponsor children across the globe.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a deep appreciation for the work that World Vision does, and I know that the world is a better place because of their influence in it. But it wasn’t lost on me in the moment that El Salvador was one of the countries from which the recent migrant caravans came from. Nor did I forget that “by more than two-to-one (68% to 25%), white evangelical Protestants (which I would argue comprised a majority of the crowd) say the U.S. does not have a responsibility to accept refugees” (Pew Research Center). So while the crowd in the Resch Center that night was more than willing to throw money hand over fist to help the orphans and poor in other countries, how many would also stand at our border and tell little Maria that she cannot enter?
Following Jesus comes with a cost. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him. It isn’t an easy task. It’s uncomfortable. It’s burdensome. It hurts sometimes. And it ought to allow us to understand the hurt of others and seek to alleviate it as best we can. How can we best help the widow, the orphan, and the poor around us? How much of our efforts should be acts of charity, and how much should be devoted to seeking justice? I don’t have the answer. But I’d rather be accused of having my wallet closed because my arms are open than the other way around.