If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? James 2:16-17
A few days ago I retweeted a comment on my twitter profile which spoke to the idea that, because God loves everyone, Christians should strive to better emulate that love. I thought this was a great idea. After all, who can argue with love?
Apparently, I’m naive. Within moments, I received the following reply:
Does that include the 18000 children who die of starvation EVERY DAY? #GodIsNOTGreat
The hashtag at the end gave away the game from the outset. It refers to a rhetorically brilliant, yet factually dishonest book authored by the late Christopher Hitchens. The publication sought to undermine Christianity by painting it as a highly unethical, dehumanizing, barbaric faith which suppresses reason and provides motive for violence. In reality, it has simply become the backdrop for embittered anti-theists who use it as a rallying point to vent their rage against the Christian faith. I knew this, but I felt that the question itself was a valid one. I took the bait.
Yes, that includes them. Especially them.
From that point forward, the conversation degraded into angry epithets against a God who desires nothing more than to lavish his love upon us all. I ended the discussion with the block button, but the underlying question remained unanswered. How is it that starving children exist when a sovereign, almighty God claims to desire little more than to pour His love out upon humanity? It is a good question.
Imagine, for a moment, that God snapped His fingers and a surplus of food suddenly appeared which could end global hunger. Then, imagine that the people with money, power, and proximity decided that this surplus could have better uses than to feed the emaciated. The tables of the wealthy suddenly become glutted with delicacies, while 18000 children starve in their streets. Who do we indict for this injustice? God, or the greedy?
Here is the reality. On a global level, we already have more than enough food to end world hunger. In 2008, the United Nations released a report detailing that, for $30 billion a year, starvation could become a thing of the past. Furthermore, after ten years of this, the structures would be in place to allow for complete sustainability, thus ending the price tag forever. Altogether, the cost would be $300 billion over the course of ten years. Expensive? Certainly. However, let’s put this into perspective.
- In 2010, the United States spent $683.7 billion on our military. That’s more than double the entire expense for eradicating world hunger.
- Over 75% of the world’s resources are consumed by the wealthiest 20%. That means that only a quarter of consumable resources are available to be shared by 80% of the world’s population.
- It is estimated that in 2012, 30% of US corn production (FOOD!) will be used for ethanol production. This means that a full 30% of a viable food source will be used to fuel our vehicles, rather than feed the hungry.
I could go on, but I think the point is made.
All throughout Scripture, God places an extremely high emphasis on the need for His people to care for the poor. He has made the resources available. The indictment for starving children does not fall on God, it falls squarely on the shoulders of humanity. This is our doing, and part of being a people charged with the bringing forth of God’s kingdom is actively working to set it right. Which brings me back to the original retweet… if God loves everyone, Christians need to better emulate that love.