Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

I am a half-full guy. I see the glass, I know it is half-full, and I would like a drink. Better yet, I might think to offer it to someone who needs a drink more than I do. I see the world as half-full. Yes, I know there are problems, but at least we are half-full.

Of course, there is a time to look at the other side. Today, I want to write about the half that is empty.

On a recent trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, our Uber driver told us about his other job. He has some land in Ghana, West Africa where he grows, corn, casava, and other food. He has managers that tend the land most of the year, but he goes back to Ghana for a few weeks at harvest time. He sells most of the produce but gives 10% of his farm harvest to local people who are hungry and at risk of greater poverty. He also said that he does this directly to the poor because he does not trust the politicians or “men of God” to do this properly. He told us how both the politicians and the churches are corrupt and would tend to keep the food for themselves or sell it to line their own pockets. He told us how the “men of God” preach health and wealth but rob from the poor to support their lifestyle.

Unfortunately, the same Uber driver did not have much good to say about the local Christians in his own adopted city. As a driver, he had seen way too much of churchgoers who spend the morning in church and the afternoon being drunkards in the bars and Uber vehicles.

On the same trip to Charlotte, it was pointed out that this city in North Carolina is one of the most racially segregated cities in the US because of historic practises of exclusionary zoning, realtor regulations, and inequity of mortgage availability. Charlotte is a prime example of the type of racism explained in a series of videos by Phil Visser (see ). The US Federal Housing Administration recommended that highways be built to segregate communities and stated that, “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities.” Today, the legacy of such practises can be seen in major US and perhaps less explicitly in Canadian cities.

We went to the Levine Museum of the New South, where we learned that many people of colour are climate refugees and targets of environmental racism. They have been squeezed into the dirty, polluted, and environmentally dangerous zones in our countries. Then when a hurricane, a landslide, a flood, or an environmental disaster happens, they have nowhere to turn.

Now, some will say, “You are pointing to a lot of negative stuff, but the glass is still half-full.” And I would tend to agree with you. The problem is that for me, the glass is more than half-full. Life may have given me lemons and sugar that I could easily turn into lemonade. But many in our world have been given chokecherries, no sugar, and dirty water.

What is the solution for the half-empty and those who have been given bad water? Certainly, we need to listen. I need to spend time in places like the Levine Museum and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. I need to meditate upon the privilege I have. I need to be grateful for every bit of good I have received and then I need to think carefully about how I can be an agent of change for those who did not receive the same privilege and those who have been purposely oppressed.

The tie back to the Christians who were in church in the morning and drunken and difficult in the afternoon is painfully obvious. The health and wealth Christians who stole from the hungry is catastrophic to the witness of Christians in this world. The religious can be part of the solution to world problems or can be complicit with the evil that oppresses and binds the poor.

Jesus had three ways he related to people:

  1. He called out the religious hypocrites,
  2. He welcomed and ate with the poor, oppressed, rejected, and all who would sit with him,
  3. He called people to follow him.

It seems that our churches need to do the same: call out religious hypocrisy, welcome all, and call people to orient themselves toward Jesus and follow him. I do not want to suggest easy answers, but we must become loving, grace-filled followers of the one who practised perfect acceptance and pointed to a better way.

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