How would you be today if you had been born to a mother in poverty with several children by different men? What if you had been surrounded by depression, anger, fear, hopelessness, and despair? How would you be if you had grown up in the middle of violence, drugs, profanity, and vulgarity? What if you had never known any other way to live, how would you be today?
I used to ask groups of men in the rehab where I used to work this question: How many of you have never known even one godly man, a man who doesn’t cheat, lie, steal, cuss, get drunk, use drugs, practice sexual sin, or be mean to others? Sometimes 80% of the guys would raise their hand! How would you be today if you had never known even one godly man?
It is so easy to look down on others. But how would you be today if you had lived in their shoes from birth? Why would you be any different than they are?
Environment is powerful programming. True, a few people rise beyond the programming of their childhood, but many are stuck. How do the few make it? They have a positive example — an encouraging mentor who offers practical help. A man or woman who is living a better quality of life befriends them and builds a loving, helping relationship with them demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ in practical ways.
America, however, is set up to separate people according to economics and social status. People who desperately need the love and help of a positive mentor are kept away from vital, personal relationships with those who could redirect their lives. There are millions of Americans who don’t have even one neighbor or family friend who is financially or socially better off than they are.
How would you be today if no one had ever helped you get a job or into a college? How would you be if no one had paid the money to buy all the advantages you had growing up? How would you be today if you had never had a friend or caring relationship with anyone who wasn’t struggling financially and discouraged?
Many of us have had great advantages in this culture. We’ve been helped along. We have been handed opportunity. We have been loved, disciplined, and parented well.
Everybody in America is not so fortunate. Perhaps it is time we begin to cross some socio-economic lines and become close personal friends with someone who is caught in a negative environment.
If you are looking for a place where you can make a difference in people’s lives, come and visit a church built on love, relationships, and community: The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, 225 Berry St., Nashville, TN, 37207 on Sundays at 10:45 am.