Tuesday, February 2, 2010

God's Children in Haiti

“Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers’.”
Matthew 7:22

Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord!” understands what it means to follow Jesus. And in the end, probably none of us fully and completely understands.

But thankfully, most of us know something about what it is not. So we know that going to Haiti and scooping up children off the street and trying to take them out of the country is probably not what Jesus had in mind when he invited us to follow him.

The story about the “church group” from Idaho that tried to take Haitian children out of the country is troubling on many different levels. It’s troubling because it points again to the desperate poverty and chaos of the country, and it reminds us of how much of that burden is borne by little children. But it’s also troubling because it shows how even with the best of intentions, people of good will can do great harm.

First and most important is the potential or real harm done to the children. This is one more major trauma in their lives. The group claimed to be rescuing orphans, but the Haitian government is convinced that at least some of the children are not orphans. For all of the children, in one way or another, it is a nightmare.

The harm done to what we used to call “the cause of Christ,” is not on the same level. But it is still important. The story in the New York Times describes what happened without making harsh judgments about the group. (You can read the story by using this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/world/americas/02orphans.html?th&emc=th.) But the comments show that some people take it as one more piece of evidence that Christians are not to be trusted. One person commented that as soon as he heard the story, he knew that they were a group of “religious nuts.”

The father of one of the leaders in the group said, “I can’t at all question where they went and what they did because I’m really convinced it was at God’s direction,” he said. “They were acting in faith. That may sound trivial, but they were acting not only in faith but God’s faith.”

If they were following God’s direction, then how can we question it?

Interestingly, the biblical answer is that we can question it. The Bible has lots of examples in which our ancestors in faith questioned God, not just once, but repeatedly. There is a strong Hebrew tradition of arguing with God. But in our modern context, we can and should question whether that inner voice is really from God.

Saying, “Lord, Lord,” is not enough. It is not even a small fraction of enough

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