We Didn’t Have a Choice

I was so excited to get my first check, after all, I didn’t even own a bed. Rent was $525. When you divide that by the other five (all of us buddies who had just graduated from Pacific Lutheran University) each share was just $87.50 per month. But when you were just starting out, every dollar was significant. Besides, with six guys in one house, we knew we needed to save some money for a housecleaner every once in awhile (we hired a cheerleader once a month; she even brought us cookies—such a deal).

So when that first check came from the Bethel School District (I was a high school teacher), I scoured over every deduction. “What’s this, union dues? I didn’t join any union.” I would come to find out that every employee was in the union unless you opted out. And to opt out, you had to request a special “opt out form,” fill it out, send it via certified mail, and you could only do so during a one-week window during the summer. And as I recall, I had to snoop out all this information, too—no one provided it. The end result was that it was a really difficult process to get out of the union. The system was set up for you to be in it.

God has given directives to His church and to the believer. There are certain things we are told to do. The church is to preach the Gospel and administrate the sacraments, for example. The believer is to love, serve, forgive, and so on. The Bible is full of such commands. One that’s on the list is to take care of widows and orphans (Isaiah 1:17, Jeremiah 22:3, James 1:27). Jesus’ parable of the “Sheep and the Goats” (Matthew 25:31-46) with His instruction to take care of the “least of these” probably refers to widows and orphans, too.

Which gets to my point; we don’t need to be told to take care of the orphan—the command has already been given. Sometimes we wait for directives from God. But what if He has already provided it? As Christians, we are to be in the “taking care of orphans business” already. The number not caring for the orphan suggests, however, there’s an “opt out” available somewhere. I’ve never seen that “form.” How would you even fill it out if you secured one? “Memo to God, I’m asking for an exemption on the orphan ‘thing’—I don’t really have the resources. Sorry.” Does any Christian want to send that certified mail to God?

This is not a blog to incite guilt. It is one to take our responsibilities more seriously than we sometimes do. It is also to inform the members of our church that a couple hundred dollars each month of your tithes and offerings goes to the orphan care ministry of Youth for Christ.

But truth be told—we didn’t have a choice.

Pastor Rich Hamlin

March 15, 2012

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