It is usually difficult for those coming behind us to relate to the issues that we have gone through with the same passion and zeal that we have for those issues. A few years ago our family visited one of the civil rights museums in Selma, Alabama. It was tremendously interesting to me, and I’m sure I wandered through the museum much longer than what the children thought was needed. It stirred a lot of memories, and as we traveled on, I told the children how it was in the sixties when I was a young boy in public school. The black people had separate schools, walked down different sides of the street, had separate restrooms in public places, and even had different water fountains. The civil rights movement was in full swing then, and as a youngster I figured the riots in the big cities would just be a way of life for years to come. One of our children commented, “No wonder you were so interested in that museum.” Two things dawned on me: that our children were as removed from this as I was from the Great Depression, and that to live through a major event gives us a completely different perspective on that event.
Of course the question comes to us now, how can we help those coming behind us to have passion and zeal for something that was born before their day and has almost been a silent passenger on their journey of life?
Specifically, I am thinking of the privilege and responsibility of brotherhood aid. Most of our group hardly knows anything different from Social Security exemption, self-insurance for our cars, and brotherhood assistance for our medical needs. We are living in a unique period of history where these freedoms and privileges have been granted. But I am wondering if we are like my children in the Civil rights Museum, just taking our present life for granted.
Two things should grip all of us today. First, not only is helping each other in time of need a duty at the very core of Christianity, it also is a tremendous blessing and privilege. The second is that in today’s economy we are much better off by helping each other.
What I would like to pass on to those coming behind is the burden to live a lifestyle of sacrifice and to view it as a blessing to be able to help those in need. It is very possible to take the savings of our Social Security exemption, auto insurance, and medical insurance, and increase our standard of living to the point that we don’t have money to give when needs arise. When we do that, we also increase our material goods that place more liability on others when hardships come.
Doing a few calculations should help put our situation in perspective, and should help us see the need to shoulder the responsibility that is ours. a self-employed person making $35,000 annual income would pay a little over $400 a month in Social Security tax. Full coverage on an average 2010 minivan is about $80 a month. Full coverage on a vehicle for those 24 and under is oftentimes as much as the payment on the vehicle. The estimate for a medical policy for this year is $328 per person per month.
As I pondered these figures, I wondered why it is still difficult for us to keep up with the cost of our brotherhood needs. I think each of us needs to examine our own lives and interests rather than laying blame at each others’ feet. There are two things that we should always try to avoid. The first has already been mentioned; that is, using the money we saved by these exemptions to raise our standard of living higher than it should be. The other is the welfare mentality. Is that a threat in the church? In this country a growing number of people view government as some big abstract force somewhere with all the money needed to supply all the needs. It is possible to view our brotherhood assistance program in a similar way and see it as a fund that will be filled by some whom we perceive to have lots of money. If it is viewed that way, we will disconnect from our responsibility to sacrifice to fill the needs of our brotherhood.
God help us to show excitement about helping our brethren, both by word and action. Then as we drive on down the road, those coming behind us will begin to understand why our interest was there.
Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
~ Dublin, GA