Some People Don’t Count

Lori 2016You can tell a lot about a culture and the powers who rule it by the people it doesn’t count.

When Jesus fed the 5000, the gospel writer notes that 5000 is the number of men. Matthew ends his account with this verse: “The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matthew 14:21 (NIV)

Besides women and children . . .” says much about the culture of ancient Israel under Roman rule. Women and children didn’t count – except with Jesus.

The ancient Israelites aren’t alone.

Some cultures marginalize ethnic groups while in others, outcast status has to do with economics, disability, or age. For centuries, India maintained a caste of people known as “untouchables” and in several African nations, people with albinism are severely persecuted. Prior to the civil war, African-Americans would not have been counted in our country – not the way white Americans counted. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that we allowed women to vote and the sixties before we granted African-Americans the same right. Every culture has a hard time hearing certain voices.

A society proudly displays what it values while hiding, sidelining, or silencing what it considers embarrassing or insignificant. So, in taking stock of any people at any given time, we must listen to the prevailing voices but also ask what voices are not being heard, either because they’re forced or shamed into silence or because they’re shouted down when they do speak.

In today’s America, the unborn do not count.

Oh, their numbers are quoted but they’re so staggering, those of us who survived the womb can’t fully appreciate them as humans who have been forcibly silenced. How can the mind imagine 57, 000,000 individual souls extinguished before their first breath?

We, as a culture, have accepted the extermination of millions of unborn souls. World-wide, even more. We have decided to extend the fewest protections to the most vulnerable in our midst. As a culture, we’re embarrassed by our mistakes so we destroy them before they can testify against us.

God promises to demand an accounting for the lifeblood of every person. If it’s counter-cultural to value life, we live in a culture of death.

We also don’t count the vulnerable women and girls who have been bullied, pressured, coerced, or duped into choosing abortions. Abusive partners who threaten “or else.” Over-controlling parents who insist on covering. Pimps who force the choice. Even well-intentioned individuals who promise no consequences but ignore the potential for grief, regret, or complications. That’s ugly but it’s the truth.

Our culture sacrifices the whole truth in order to promote a specific agenda. If it’s counter-cultural to value truth, we live in a culture of deception.

 

People who contradict the party of the day do not count in our culture.

We’ve decided that as we celebrate individuals who embrace their true calling as LGBTQ, we’ll disregard the experiences of individuals who tell different stories. God’s love is great enough to love all but our society’s adoration is not. We won’t listen when someone tells us they’ve changed from LGBTQ to straight. We won’t pay attention when someone says they regret their gender reassignment surgery or that they eventually reconciled their feelings of being in the wrong gender. We certainly won’t listen to the spouses left with shattered dreams while the world throws a party for the ones who discovered their true selves. That would be complicated, messy, and inconvenient.

The Biblical writers prophesied a day when people would seek to have their ears tickled, when people wouldn’t tolerate teachers who killed their buzz. If it’s counter-cultural to consider consequences and the fallout of individual choices on the greater community, we live in a culture of self.

What then will we say to a God who calls us to die to self?

We do not count those our culture says are boring.

Our culture is bored with commitment, sacrifice, steady jobs, quiet marriages, Sunday worship, healthy family routines, sobriety, responsibility, and looking out for others. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t sell, headline, or provoke conversation. If anyone follows this course, we scoff, we mock, we condescend.

We are a woeful culture for Isaiah warned, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21 ESV)

Some people don’t count. According to our culture, that is.

With God, we each count and we will each be called to account. We won’t be able to hide in the crowd or blame the masses or point fingers at our culture because what is true about God is clear to all, He makes it known. We will be without excuse.

It’s up to us to make our lives count now, for Him. Even in the face of a culture that counts us out. If God counts us, no one can discount us.

Our voice matters – even when no one else is listening, because He always is.

Who else doesn’t count in our society? Whose voice is missing from the conversation?

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2 Comments

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  1. Thanks for standing up for those who “do not count.” The more I watch movies about the horrors of the Holocaust and how so many ignored what was happening for so long, I think about the unborn babies. Why is a mother’s choice more important than a baby’s life?