While working in Manchester this week I learned that my mother had gotten scammed by a caller into sending money to someone claiming to be calling on behalf of our oldest, her grandson. No doubt you've received one of these by e-mail from someone you know with a message like "I was travelling in (insert city) when I (was mugged, was in an accident, had my wallet stolen). I need (sum of money) to get home. If you really care about me, send money."
My mother is an 86 year-old intelligent, practical woman who has been through a great deal in her life. I learned that she had gotten several convincing calls and had gone some considerable trouble to send the money. After I dealt with the practicalities of filing a police report I started thinking about how we typically view these events in society, what that says about us and what Christians are called to do in these circumstances.
The world's view is fairly summed up in the short news articles telling of a (generally) elderly person getting fleeced by criminals, taking advantage of their trust, good intentions and perhaps mental accuity. This is invariably followed by advice from the police on how to avoid these scams and protect your elderly parents/neighbors from these theives.
Scripture tells us that these "scumbags" are God's children, that we should love them and forgive them as in Luke 6:27. And the fact is, we should. ("Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse
you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone strikes you
on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not
stop him from taking your tunic. 30Give to everyone who
asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
31Do to others as you
would have them do to you."). Scripture also tells us to be "in this world" but not "of this world". We're not called to be passive observers in this fallen, sin-filled, imperfect world we have made out of God's creation. We are called to be engaged, an example to others. How hard is this when it's your mother who's been taken advantage of.
As dispiriting as all of this was I saw more than a ray of sunshine in all of this. My mother has been a quiet woman of faith her entire life and that has sustained her through some truly awful times. I beleive that it was her faith and unconditional love for her grandson that drove her to send the money. How fortunate is she that, after all of the pain and suffering in her life, she has the capacity to give what little she has for someone she loves.
The world keeps score in money, status and power. When the music stops and there's no chair for us, none of it means anything. My mother has something that many of the rich and powerful don't - people she loves and would sacrifice most anything for and generations of family who love her and are guided by her life and example.
Some poor soul might have some of her money today but she has all of what is truly valuable in this life