Sunday, September 19, 2010

Those People

Against you, and you alone, have I sinned.”
                This verse from Psalm 51 was part of our Sunday school discussion today. David wrote this Psalm after being confronted about having committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranging to have her husband killed. We considered why David says that his sin is only against God, since others suffered the consequences of his sinful behavior.

                That’s an interesting question, and as I’ve mulled over it, I wonder if it’s easier for me to excuse my sinful behavior when it’s against another person rather than against God. Consider for a moment what David did. He saw Bathsheba taking a bath one afternoon, has her brought to the palace and then slept with her. He could have excused he behavior by saying she should not have been bathing in view of the palace, or that she should have refused to come to the palace or refused to sleep with him once she was there. At the time of Uriah’s death he offered an excuse, claiming it was a consequence of battle. But when David was confronted with his sin, he made no excuses, recognizing that it was sin against God.

                In a similar vein, I can excuse my ability to help others by blaming others for my failure to act. This really hit me during a conversation about some of the ongoing problems in our community and beyond. I can say it’s the government’s fault, it’s the school’s fault, it’s the parents’ fault, or that “those people” should get a job, go to school, stop having babies, etc. You get the idea. As long as I can find someone else to be responsible, I don’t have to be.

                Like Lee Corso on College Gameday, Jesus tells me, “Not so fast, my friend,” saying that whenever I have not helped one of “those people” (he calls them “the least of these”) I have not helped him. He puts a different face on “those people.” He puts HIS face on them. Suddenly, it’s a lot harder for me to dismiss the unwed mother, the homeless man, the teenager with attitude, the deadbeat dad, and all the others I conveniently refer to as “those people,” because each one of those people IS Jesus Christ to me. His face is on them. If I don’t see it, it’s my fault, not theirs.

                I’m running out of places to point fingers, because every time I point, I see the face of Christ, and he shows up in people I’d rather not see him among, because that means I should be among them as well, serving them without judging or making excuses. The problems in my community and in the world are no longer somebody else’s problems. They are mine. I am responsible because I claim to follow Christ and following him means that I am to live with him and serve him, and he is here, looking back at me in every face I see. 


  1. Thank you, Ann. If only we would all run out of places to point fingers and see the face of Christ in all around us.

    Carol Head

  2. I think your statement about not judging others is one of the most powerful in your essay. I think that judging is a very dangerous thing for both the person that judges and the person that is judged. This is something that I am actively working to stop doing.