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Faithful to Jesus: When did we see you?

One of the most indicting passages from the New Testament is found at the end of the Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus envisions a time when God will judge the faithful (take note) according to their hospitality to God. Incredulous, the faithful (!) ask when they possibly could have seen God amongst them. The famous answer is: When you took care of the hungry, the sick, the stranger, the naked and the imprisoned, you took care of God.
By the time you read this, someone will have died due to lack of medical insurance. And those who are uninsured have a 40 percent higher chance of dying than those who are covered.
“When did we see you?”
According to 2007 statistics, 14 percent of children in Rowan County are uninsured. That’s approximately 10,000 kids who are not being “seen” by the faithful in this county alone. These children of God have a 40 percent higher chance of dying because they do not have health insurance. The last year for which data are available (2004), the United States ranked 29th for infant mortality behind countries including Singapore, Japan, Cuba and Hungary. In 1960, the United States was ranked 12th.
“When did we see you?”
Art McDonald was a minister acquaintance back in Pittsburgh. Art served a church in a poor, rundown section of the city’s north side. It was his custom to walk to lunch every day where he saw winos, hookers and street people (the more interesting side of God’s children) as he went to get his hot dog and fries.
It wasn’t unusual for Art to be hit for some change, and his normal, reply was, “Come to the church to the soup kitchen after 5 p.m.”
But one day, after he’d passed by three or four panhandlers, Art had a creepy feeling come over him and said to himself, “Did I just pass by the risen Christ and neglect to offer him food?”
“When did we see you?”
Where are the voices of the Christian churches crying in pain for the sick amongst us who are dying because they cannot afford health insurance or cannot pay medical bills?
I can’t tell you how many phone calls I field asking for help, and my reply is always that same. “We don’t give out money or pay bills or distribute food. Please get in touch with Rowan Helping Ministries.” And after I hang up I get a creepy feeling and hear that voice, “When did we see you?”
When our forbears sailed across the Atlantic, they had grand visions of the place they were to call home. John Winthrop in his sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” said this land would be “a city on a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us.”
Indeed, the eyes of the world are now upon us and what, in the name of God, are they seeing?
“When did we see you?” Indeed.
Doug Gebhard is interim pastor at John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Salisbury.

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