Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Noticer

I have met enough upper/middle-class white Christians to know that they have great hearts. Some of the best people I have ever known, and some of the best “Christ followers” I know, fit into this class of people. If they hear about a need or hear someone else give a presentation about a cause or ministry, they are givers. But IF I could pray for one thing for Christians it would be this: Give us the eyes of Jesus to see the injustice ourselves.

The problem for most of us is that we only fight for the injustice that makes our life hard and never see the injustice that stinks for the least of these. I have a close friend, and he is a great man. But I had a run-in with him about 10 months ago that will give you an example of my point. He was a leader of a ministry, and he stepped down as the paid leader but stayed on as a volunteer in this ministry. About a month into it, his feelings were hurt by the ministry leaders that they no longer invited him to the leadership dinner meetings that they would have from time to time. So he complained to me and told me how it kind of hurt his feelings. I asked him who went to the meetings when he was the paid leader. He told me, “Everyone, the two couples that are the head or governing leaders of this ministry and me and my wife.” I asked him, “Well, who goes to the meeting now?” “Well,” he said, “The two couples that govern the ministry and the paid staff.” I said, “Is that not the same as it was when you were there?” He then said, “Yeah, but I feel like I can offer and bring some valuable insight to the ministry and leadership.” I said, “ What you’re saying is that the leadership system is messed up and now you only see it when it has affected you and your wants.” I said, “ This person has been here for years. Would they bring some good tools and gifts to those meetings?” He said, “YES! They would.” “But you never fought for them when you had the chance to. “ My friend is one of the best people I know, but he is like a lot of us. We don’t care that a system is broken until it affects our lives or until we don’t get our way or until we have to live with the injustice of a broken system.

This is why I say if Icould give one thing to us who don’t have to see or live with the injustice everyday, it would be those eyes to see the brokenness around us. Not for us to wait until someone else tells us about it or we have to live through it. But we want to be like Jesus so much that we notice others and their hard times. One of my favorite things about Jesus was he was a noticer. I try to be. My friends think that I am weird because I read every sign or billboard when I drive or walk. I really do think it helps me with the spiritual discipline of noticing. It helps me see the small wonderful things like he did (the widow and her two mites) but also those who are crying out for help and healing (ten lepers). Over and over again in the Bible, I see Jesus being the noticer. May we all have the eyes to see the broken systems, the injustice, the hurting, the hopeless, the people God put in your path and the small beautiful things.

Here is our homework: Study and try to find a way that the system is broken without us having to experience it.

Here is one example: Tags and registration in Nashville costs $87.00 for tags and $10.00 for marta test.

That’s $97.00 to drive your car for a year.

To a family that makes 100,000 a year that equals to 0.097 cent out of every $100 they make. Take a dime out of every $100 bill you make and that is what you pay the state to drive your car each year.

So, of course, if you make $200,000, it would be about a nickel out of every $100.

If you only make $50,000, take 20 cents out of every $100 you make.

But say you’re a single mom who makes $8.00 an hour and trust me, there are a ton of single moms who make that little in your city. What does she take out of her salary to drive? Well, it might not seem like much for the year, but she will pay 59 cents out of every $100 she makes. Which is six times the percentage of cost to the family that makes $100,000! But what about the month her car tags are due? If she saves all month, how much of her salary does she have to put back in order to drive a car to get an $8.00 job? The tags would be over 14% of her monthly salary. What if she has to pay it out of her 1 week check? About 1/3 of her weekly check.

How is this fair? I don’t think the state should tax or charge more to the rich. I just think it should not cost a legitimate hard-working single mom over six times the percentage of overall salary as a family that makes $100,000. What I really think is that us as Christians should be close enough to the poor that we can help with that burden. What If a group of ten people from a Bible class said we are going to not get queso at Applebee’s today or my family is only drinking water anytime we go out so we can help buy a single mother tags this year. What if we did not even sacrifice that much and we just kept our eyes open for $10.00 worth of coupons this month and with the $10 we saved with our coupons, we gave it to some single mom for tags?

More than the state to notice and change it's policy, I want Christians everywhere to notice the struggles of the poor that are all around us every day. I want Christians to live and come up with radical ways to live that will bless the people that they notice having a rougher road because of a broken system.


  1. Thank you for stepping on my toes! I need to be challenged to notice not only experience true empathy, but to act on it! Thanks, Mike P.

  2. Thank you so much. I have difficulty buying a $1.00 cup of coffee at "The Porch" when that's over half the amount millions of people make in a whole day. When I mention this to some of my more middle class friends (other christians mind you)they look at me like I'm from outer space. Thank you for not hesitating to step on toes but I also have to mention that were it not for iother Christians I wouldn't be able to drive or work at all right now.
    Greg J

  3. Michael. Thank you for breaking it down and making it real and personal for each of us. This is a situation that I personally see almost every day and what an opportunity it is to share God's story and his love. Keep on blogging!

  4. Thanks you guys for reading my blog.

    Katie - you know you have taught me more about Jesus then I will ever with you. the why you and Patrick love and care for those boys is amazing.

    Greg J- thanks for having a heart that cares for the least of these even in the little things

    acupatea- I hope to keep blogging, it has been a great outlet for me