Between Heaven and Hell

By Shamim Masih

ISLAMABAD: The Bible shows that there are two great commandments. The first commandment is to love God with all our being. The second commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves. So how do we show that we love our neighbors?

Jesus said, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Let me give you a story of a Christian from West Virginia, he narrates:

“I’ve always loved to work on cars. Whenever I was out driving and saw someone alongside the road with car problems, I stopped to help. It was rewarding to fix their car, but more rewarding to help them.

“One time in the dead of winter, I found this stranded couple trying to stay warm in their freezing car. No one had stopped to help. Another time, a family of six was trying to make it to their relatives for some food to eat. They had put a couple of dollars of gas in their old car, hoping it would be enough. It wasn’t.

“I was always thankful to God that I could help. But just like them, one day my car broke down. I had a flat tire and had no spare. I was in the middle of nowhere. But then, something happened I will never forget!

“I got out and leaned against my car, wondering what I was going to do. Seemingly out of nowhere, two men in an old wrecker suddenly pulled along beside me.

“‘You need a tire, don’t you?’ asked one of them. Before I could even answer, they got out of the wrecker, grabbed a tire from the back, and changed my tire as I stood there speechless! When they finished, I asked, ‘How much do I owe you?’ The man simply replied, ‘Nothing. We all need a hand every now and then.’ They promptly turned around and drove away.

“I know that God sent these ‘Good Samaritans’ to help me. God says that when we look out for others, He will look out for us. He proved it to me that day.”

Street life:

More than 25 million Pakistani Christians are living below poverty line. Life of the Christians living in the slum areas is not better than street life. On the other hand, Christian leadership includes religious, social and political enjoying luxurious lives. Do they justify, they are following Christ’s teaching. Correct me if I am wrong, charities are based on the teaching of Christ, “love thy neighbor”. So it is mandatory for religious leadership and applies to social leadership as well. But ground reality is totally opposite. It is reported that some Churches in Pakistan have properties worth billions of dollars in shape of Christian Missionary Schools, Colleges and Hospitals which are being run as business concerns and benefiting Muslims only and establishment of Pakistan uses its clergy to speak against issues of common Christian on international forums but I assure them that they do not represent a common Christian. Pakistani Bishops have luxury homes in the UK, France, the US, and Europe, whereas the communities for whom these donations are received are living in the slum areas. Even non-profit organizations –NGOs funded for charitable programs- spend millions of rupees for their personal promotions and for their own luxuries rather than doing something for poor’s. I will soon uncover the stories behind the closed doors that how these black sheep play with the sentiments of marginalized community. Where do a common Christian stand, “between heaven and hell”?

It is also reported that the same NGO workers have been fighting to hake the case. It is pathetic that Church that is the essence of Christianity is not seen anywhere. Reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus said that the essence of Christianity could be summed up in two inseparable commandments: Love God, and love thy neighbor. First, Christian Community Development is concerned with reconciling people to God and bringing them into a church fellowship where they can be disciple in their faith.

But can a gospel that reconciles people to God without reconciling people to people be the true gospel of Jesus Christ? Our love for Christ should break down every racial, ethnic or economic barrier. As Christians come together to solve the problems of their community, the great challenge will be to partner and witness together across these barriers. Christian Community Development recognizes that the task of loving the poor is shared by the entire body of Christ, black, white, brown, and yellow, rich and poor, urban and suburban.

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