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December 4, 2011 - Ray Hall (Archive)
There are Americans who wrap themselves in robes of self-righteousness and loudly bray that the United States is a Christian nation, but their fruits betray their faith. To be sure there are Christians (and non-Christians) in the United States that demonstrate extraordinary acts of compassion, but as a nation we get a failing grade for tender acts of kindness toward one another.

The story of Jesus turning loaves and fishes into a bounty sufficient to feed a multitude with baskets of leftovers is often used in sermons and homilies to illustrate the miraculously nature of Christ. But that story tells us much more than we might suppose.

There seems to be no doubt that Jesus was concerned about the welfare of the people. The day was probably hot and the crowd hungry. Jesus used what food was available, probably someone’s lunch, and he didn’t use just part of that lunch, he used all of it to create a much greater result.

The writers of the gospel say that 5000 persons were fed that day and we can assume that the crowd was a cross section of the population. Some knew Jesus, some were disbelievers, and others were merely curious onlookers. And some were probably not hungry. But Jesus, using a small portion from one in the crowd, fed everyone without regard to faith or social status.

It’s worth pointing out that the lad could have refused to surrender his lunch. After all he had the foresight to pack a lunch knowing the day would be long, hot and tedious, but he surrendered his lunch for the good of the entire multitude and was not harmed from the transaction.

Somewhere in the Gospels it is written that Jesus said that we would do even greater miracles than He. Americans of every faith, all who profess to be Christians, and even those who disbelieve ought not doubt that assertion.

We Americans should believe that, because we have it in our power to improve the health of the entire nation. We have it in our power to provide free or affordable education to everyone who will rise to the challenge. We have it in our power to extend the life span of every person and improve the quality of life of those beset with life challenges. We have it within our power to feed the hungry and to cloth the naked.

Not only do we fail as a nation on the simplest acts of benevolence but also the self-righteous among us seem to delight in supporting unusual and cruel prescriptions. In some instances where states extend welfare benefits exceptional efforts are undertaken to make what is supposed to be a charitable act, an act of love as humiliating and degrading as possible.

Are we a Christian nation? If we were wouldn’t we would surrender our lunch, a small portion of our money, to make sure that not a single child goes to school hungry, in poor health and with rotting teeth. If we were a Christian nation we would attend to our homeless, our disabled and elderly. If we were a Christian nation we would not allow elected officials impose unreasonable drug testing on the poor and unemployed.

We have it in our power to do so much good. Instead we seem to relish in criticism of other countries that attends to their citizens. We justify our deficiencies by criticizing Canada, Britain and Scandinavian for providing universal health care for its citizens.

What is so sinful about using the people’s government as a mechanism for miracles?

Can we say we are a Christian nation? I think not.


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