Those words were spoken to a friend of mine at a church when she asked a lady her name. Now, there is a bit of background to this that I don't want to share because that's her story, but let's just say that people were praying for other people, and my friend wanted to know "Who are you, oh woman who is praying for me?" and the lady was like, "God loves you, and that's the only thing you need to know."
I'm a Christian, which is something I don't always advertise because some people out there also claim to be Christian, but behave like they actually think they are The Trinity rolled into one person, and are able to dictate everyone's lives and beliefs to them whether those people appreciate it or not. But as a Christian, I am told time and again that my only relationship that needs work is the one I have with God. This rankles me, because I have not seen much evidence of this in the Bible. In fact, what I find in the Bible is a bunch of people, up to and including Jesus, exhorting me to love my fellow man.
When I was little, we would sing the "I John 4:7-8 Song" which said, "Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and he that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. But he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." When I was little, John 3:16 was also the most quoted scripture. Nowadays, it's "Judge not lest ye be judged." (Mat 7:1). I can't help but think that if we were busier loving our bretheren and getting to know them, then we wouldn't have to worry about judging them because we'd be too busy loving them to judge them harshly. It's funny, but the more you love someone, the more you excuse their shortcomings and overlook it in favor of the whole person in front of you. Yes, there are times when it gets to the point that you don't want to be their friend any more, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're sitting in judgement on them, and saying that everything they do is wrong. You can not like someone and yet not judge them.
So, my friend was at this church, and it was a terrible church. I don't know why she persisted in going there; I think she was going through a masochistic phase or something, and this lady said that to her, and she lost it. She wanted to know why Christians are always trying to make it seem like all you need is God when they themselves have a huge support network. I don't get it either, especially when I feel that the Bible is so explicit about this. So many of us want to pawn off our duty to our fellow man to God when He isn't available for hugs and afterwork drinks, He isn't going to take them shopping for new shoes or drag them to a massage parlor for some "me" time when they need it. He isn't going to roll up His sleeves and help someone change their oil, or accompany them to an auto dealership to make sure they don't get taken advantage of. Even if God had a corporeal form, it would still be up to us to do these things because that's how we demonstrate love, and in demonstrating love, we demonstrate God.
Well, a few weeks ago, I was at my weekly "home group", which is basically a group that you meet with outside of church, and you pray and read from scripture, and basically try and form a support network of other people. The lady who leads the group said that we need to have a closer relationship with God, and that when people are "struggling" (life is sucking for them), that we need to remind them to hold onto God.
When we broke up into smaller groups to pray, I told my group that it was a cop-out, and that I feel we need to be there for each other to demonstrate the love of God to people and to prop them up. I didn't put the lady down or anything, I just said that for me, I wasn't going to turn away from someone and just tell them to "seek first the kingdom of Heaven!" when they can't pay the rent because they had to choose between the rent and feeding and housing their grand kids, I'm going to help them out. Guess what? That's what the Bible says to do. The Bible says that if we see someone in need of clothing or food, then we are to feed and clothe them (by Jesus Himself). In the story of the good Samaritan, he didn't say, "Maybe you need to work on your relationship with God." No, he picked the guy up and put him in a house and got him a doctor.
Now, I want to make it clear that I don't think you should just walk up to homeless people and start bringing them home. But you can go to Costco and buy a huge box of granola bars for about ten bucks and hand those out when you see someone who looks hungry. Some of those people are going to get mad at you because it's not money. I even had a guy tell me he had a gluten allergy the other day, so I took the bar back. And then he realized that his allergy wasn't that bad, and decided he wanted it after all. And then he told me I was an uppity white girl (he was also white), but that's not going to stop me from giving people food.
The thing that bothers me is that folks from other religions and non-religious folks all get this. They understand that our fellow man is what's important. Nowadays, a church will hardly move towards any sort of charity unless they can advertise upfront that it's X Church, and THIS is what we believe, and you have to listen to a long speech by a pastor before we'll give you your new shoes and sandwiches. I do know many churches that have quiet charities and have often surprised patrons when those people found out that it was a Christian organization, because there weren't crucifixes all over the place, and no one gave a huge sermon.
Anyway, I want to do my duty as a fellow human. I want to help people, not just preach at people. I want to be proud of my religion again. I want people to stop being selfish.