There was an awkward tension in the room. I was visiting with some friends one night when a relative of theirs piped in on a conversation that was generally about media coverage in the US. “Oh and I’m sick of all this coverage on Haiti,” the relative offered. “I mean, if I’m going to donate money it’s going to be for people who are in need in this area.” My friend stepped in and quickly changed the subject, and the evening went on with a happy tune. I wasn’t bitter or angry at this relative. After all, there was no way they would have known that I spent three years in Haiti as a missionary.
This “we’ve got to take care of our own” mentality isn’t anything new. In Scripture Paul dealt with a group of people who told all of the Gentiles that they needed to change nationalities by being circumcised before they became Christian. He responded in Galatians 3:28 saying, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” and later in 6:15, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” Who is “our own”? It seems that it is anyone who can be touched by the love of Jesus Christ…and God’s reach is never stunted.
The truth is that there are no qualifications or restrictions on who we are supposed to help as Christians. The often quoted Matthew 25 makes it pretty clear:
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
The Christian faith is about living in right relationship with God. The correct practice of that relationship involves helping those in need…period. We don’t do it because we know we’ll get a pat on the back, we don’t do it because we’ll feel good about ourselves, we do it because that’s simply what people in relationship with God do. We love because we are loved, and we love in the unbounded way God loves.
There is no “our own” when it comes to the love of God.