I know you’ve experienced the same thing – you walk into a store and there is a parent with multiple children. The parent isn’t paying attention to the children and you know instinctively that these children receive very little attention. They are loud, destructive, and you can tell that they have little respect for one another or for themselves. So what do you do? From what we have heard from the gospels and our accountability to all of God’s children, we know that we are called to love and support all children. But we know that we can’t interfere. We are both powerless and responsible. So what do we do?
Our challenge is that we need to focus more on who we need to be (and not be) than upon what we do. We need to not be judgmental, dismissive, or hostile. We need to not take upon ourselves a feeling of superiority as we write these children off as future inmates in a correctional center. We need to see them, and recognize them as God’s children.
A very wise professor described Christian practice as, as it relates to ministry as “A lot of loitering with intent.” We can’t force the moments when we can speak the right words – otherwise the results tend to be disastrous. We cannot push people into openness. Our job is to be people who have the right attitude of love and faith, and then when invited, to share what God has given us gently, lovingly, and without judgment.
What makes this significant is that what we have, our knowledge of God and righteousness is the key to so much. There is much reward to righteousness, especially when combined with humility and grace. The promise to the people of the Exodus was that by practicing; specifically by observing the instruction God gives, they would enjoy long lives and great blessing. The point is that those who develop their relationship with God and put their faith into action experience wonderful blessings and healthy relationships.
If we can develop an attitude of humility and gracious acceptance towards those whose lives are not enjoying the fruit of wisdom, or the benefits of practicing their faith, we become individuals who often are invited to share our knowledge of God. People often want to emulate humble, gracious individuals, and to know how to have what they enjoy. Practicing the right attitude of love opens the door to offering a new direction, when individuals are ready to hear and to grow.
Our challenge is to be loving, compassionate, and non-judgmental. When we see people living in chaos, especially children, we need to experience a call to prayer; an invitation to be compassionate; and an opportunity to see God’s beloved children rather than those whom we would judge. It’s a dirty job, but it needs to be done.