This post is part of the MennoNerds Synchroblog series taking place during Lent on the subject of suffering. Before reading the post below though I ask that you click on the video link first.
A picture is worth a thousand words (so a video should be worth a few more) but for any international readers visiting here allow me to translate some of what is mentioned in the video above.
There are 600 000 Afrikaans speaking white South Africans (out of a total of 2.7 million) that are falling into or living in poverty.
131 000 white Afrikaaners are in desperate need of housing.
45% of rape cases involve children.
One toddler living on the East Rand (which is where I live) says that “Rich is when you eat more than once a day”.
Now I could have shared a video of a black squatter camp and believe me, black squatter camps are everywhere and the living conditions are just as terrible and the people living in them are equally in need of aid from those who have the resources to share with them. There are also of course areas with make shift homes where black, white and colored people have settled down together as well. But I intentionally linked this video because I wanted to make a specific point in this post which is that ‘the least of these’ are not always as obvious as our initial assumptions assume them to be. So many people, usually those who are outside the country, have strange ideas about what life is like in South Africa. I would recommend you read this post (click on the orange words) to get more of an idea if you are interested in that. But this particular post is not about what it is like to be black or white or about the pros and cons that may be associated with either. Rather, this post is about looking beyond the assumptions which we all subconsciously make about people.
We make nasty judgment calls about people thinking that they must be on the streets because of a drug problem or other destructive habit.Every time a new act of terror goes viral on social media a large proportion of people will make blanket judgments about Muslims. How many people realize that the majority of ISIS’s victims are and will be other Muslims? One article I read said that they have marked 200 million other Muslims for death that they regard to be apostates. A wealthy lady in an upper class neighborhood can be counted among the least of these if bank accounts are not our only criteria we choose to measure people by. How many women get trapped in abusive marriages? How many school bullies are acting out because of their home environments?
Yes, we make generalizations because they are generally true but my question to you is how many people do you think we are we letting fall through the cracks because their skin color, their gender or their social status did not qualify them as victims in society’s eyes? Jesus had time for the poor just as he had time for the Samaritans, the Roman Centurion, Nicodemus, the tax collectors and the religious leaders around Him. It is true that scripture places extra emphasis on the poor and the widows (and so should we) but I would like to highlight that all men are broken in some form or another. When I read Matthew 23 I can envision a tearful Jesus pleading with the scribes and Pharisees as He says to them “what sorrow awaits you” because He cared deeply about the path each of them was on. These were men of high social standing and Jesus took no delight in their imminent downfall. Therefore let us learn to be charitable to all men and not just those who fit the mold. Until we can without prejudices feed the hungry, protect the week, speak for those who have no voice and bless our enemies rather than wishing any harm on them; we will not reflect the Jesus who is our example in all these things.
To read more articles in this series MennoNerds Synchro-Blog series reflecting on suffering during the Lent season of 2015 to http://mennonerds.com/tag/mennonerds-lent-2015/. To find out more about MennoNerds in general, go to http://mennonerds.com/about.