One of the more gratifying things about the aftermath of the “Being Poor” piece I wrote a week ago is how often I’ve been seeing it pop up on Christian-oriented Web sites, blogs and journals, followed by a sincere examination by the poster of what one ought to do about poverty, as Christians and as members of a larger community. By this I emphatically do not mean that all of a sudden these Christians are thinking about poverty seriously thanks to me, and that I should get a shiny medal or something like that. That would be a wildly stupid and arrogant assumption on my part, and while I’ve been known to be both wildly stupid and arrogrant, this isn’t one of those times. No, I believe these Christians were already grappling with issues like poverty, and this was just one more data point for them to consider.
What’s gratifying about these Christians using “Being Poor” to discuss poverty is not so much that they are talking about it but that I am seeing them discussing it, reminding me — as I do need to be reminded from time to time — that however much I rail against people I see as mouthing Christ’s words and ideas and yet living a life apart from the ideals they claim to profess, there are as many if not more people who genuinely struggle to follow the example Jesus set and stay on the path that He walked. It’s a reminder that the question “What Would Jesus Do?” is not just a snappy catchphrase on a bracelet, but also and hopefully foremost a genuine question that cuts to the core of how one should live one’s life and how one should approach others.
Scalzi touches on an issue that I try to impress upon non-Christians at every opportunity: for every wacko self-avowed Christian who makes the news, or for every fish bumper sticker you see in traffic, there are millions of us Christians quietly going about the task of trying to live out the Gospel. We’re far from perfect, and we frequently fail in our task, but we continue to try to carry out the New Covenant: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
We are your neighbors and coworkers–though you may not even know it, because for us, it’s about trying to live the Gospel, not necessarily talking about it.