Its easy to talk about issues and problems, but we want to talk with individuals and people. Everyone is different, including us. Helping humans means dealing with everyone as a unique human being, and being ourselves in the process. we put a very high priority on relationships. More gospel work might get done by sitting on a curb in a cloud of second-hand smoke than by just getting through a to-do list (though that’s important too!). (Think of Jesus by a well of water, or the apostles conversing in an ancient marketplace!) Relationships with human beings, as human beings, can take a lot of hanging out. This is not wasted time. The slow work of relating to each other is well-worth it.
Essential to this is affirming that every human being is unique and complicated; sometimes these things are what makes us interesting and beautiful, and other times these things make us hard to be around. Human beings aren’t cogs on the gears of a trauma factory. We aren’t simple variables in a math equation that can be “solved” by simply moving the numbers around. In order to help each other we have to recognize the humanity of all, and that requires talking and thinking and working on a lot more things than just physical blessings and problems.
We have to take this bull by the horns. We need responsibility. That’s a pretty unpopular thing to say these days, but its painfully true. It’s simply not possible to move past the dark times in our lives without looking back and figuring out where things went wrong. That doesn’t mean that everything tragic that we experience in the past is our fault, but it does mean if we are going to move forward into the future we have to respect ourselves and each other enough to recognize what we need to change about ourselves.
This is what we mean by responsibility: until a person makes good judgments about their past mistakes they will have a very hard time moving beyond them into a different future. This is why the Bible says that God’s judgment sets us free. It doesn’t just mean that God will “get” all of the people that hurt us; it means that God will take hold of us too and set us free from everything we did to ourselves as well. A doctor who refuses to diagnose a disease that’s killing you doesn’t love you, and neither does a counselor who refuses to name the sins that are ruining your life.
You can’t respect someone as a human being if you deny their ability, and responsibility, to make choices. These might be good or evil, and we also have to take that seriously if we want to grow in the right direction.
Here at Inherit the Earth we want to try to avoid doing things "to or for people", but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to help. Instead, we put a big emphasis on doing things with each other. Walking alongside of others requires that we be willing to be real friends.
Here's an illustration: Suppose you find yourself in a car at the end of a dead-end street. It seems like you’ve got nowhere to go. Time was wasted, wrong turns were taken, mistakes were made, and, especially if it’s been a long drive, facing all of that are never fun. It might be easier if you aren’t in the driver’s seat, but that comes with its own problem. If you are just along for the ride, the wrong road can be a scary place. You are not just lost, you are helpless. You’re just a piece of luggage along for the ride
A lot of “help” can treat people like this. The "helpers" recognize that a person’s life has ended up in the wrong place, but in the spirit of not being “judgmental” or “victim blaming” (both worthy desires) they also try to remove the person themselves from the situation. But that isn't friendship. Friendship requires that we walk alongside of people, rather than treating them like a piece of baggage.
Quality Over Quantity
You can’t solve a problem of quality with a quantitative solution, no matter how much quantity you add. Jesus told it like this, in Luke 12, with a parable about a rich man who is ready to live fat and happy. His farms are productive and his barns are full. He has a great plan: “Build Bigger Barns!” and he thinks that once this is done his soul will be safe. He will have merriment in the present and security for the future. But what a fool, God says, he won’t live another day. So what should he have done? Jesus teaches his disciples that they must realize that life is more (but not less!) than food, and the body is more (and not less!) than clothing. Even when one has the “BBB gospel”, life does not consist merely of material things.
If our service ends with the transfer of stuff, preaching the "BBB gospel," then we never go the distance to the real heart of matter. But how do we know what that is, and how do we go further? These are very important questions, that many good-hearted people struggle with. We want to help earnest people find "quality over quantity" answers, ideas, and dreams. To this end, we are committed to equipping individuals, churches, and organizations to do the work that God has called all of us to. Not just for our sake, or the sake of those we help, but for the glory of God!