My daughter, Sophie, made a cake yesterday. Our three older children enjoy the baking process, and there are frequent offerings of fluffy goodness from the Hickman kitchen.
While eating Sophie’s latest creation, I thought of the phrase “Let them eat cake”, a saying associated with the French Revolution and the attitude the French Nobility had towards the “common” poor people.
In Louis XVIII’s memoir Relation d’un voyage a Bruxelles et d Coblentz, 1791, he states that the phrase ‘Que ne mangent-ils de la croûte de pâté?’ (Why don’t they eat pastry?) was used by Marie-Thérèse (1638-83), the wife of Louis XIV. He said, “At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, “Then let them eat pastry!” (source: Wikipedia)
What sad irony. This blatant disregard for the plight of people just outside their castle walls is directly related to the death and be-headings of many of the same nobility just a short while later.
Marie-Thérèse, when and if she really said those words, was already dead and didn’t even know it. This gets me thinking, “are we really all that different today?”
Last week my daughter Lauren went into anaphylactic shock and was rushed to the hospital. We had eaten at a local restaurant and there was obviously some cross-contamination with nut products. Scary time, for sure, but another bad experience happened when I went to pick up her prescriptions. My insurance company denied a refill of her Epipen.
The drug that literally saved her life, just hours before, was being denied by the insurance company that I pay hundreds of dollars per month to cover me and my family. I was being charged $611 for a drug that had previously cost me $60-$100.
Last year, several news articles attacked the drug maker Mylan for jacking Epipen prices up by over 400%. (Read about it HERE)
‘Que ne mangent-ils de la croûte de pâté?’ “Let them eat cake”. The day of reckoning is coming for insurance companies. Children will die and the people will rise up. And rightfully so. Mylan is already facing price gouging charges. This attitude of excess always leads to death, and those who practice it are dead and they don’t even know it.
There is another place of deep concern for me. Not only does this attitude invade our political, health, and legislative systems, but it has also invaded our churches. Let me give you some personal experiences I’ve had at churches over the years:
“What can we do to get people with money to come to church? Reaching out to poor people is fine, but how can we get people in here to pay tithes?” – a Senior Pastor
“Why are we spending all this time on a bus ministry for kids? These people are poor. They don’t pay tithe.” – a Church Board member
“Preacher, I don’t let my kids hang out with those bus kids at school during the week. Why would I want them coming to my church?” – the Chairman of the Board
“Pastor, I tried to start a soup kitchen at our church, but they shut it down. They said we don’t need those type of people here.” – a person who had left and gone elsewhere to minister.
Time and again, as I’ve pushed to reach the needs and people of our community, I have faced a spirit of religion that says, “We don’t want those kind of people in our church, marking up our walls, destroying our equipment, and draining our resources”. The bread of Life means nothing to them, because they no longer eat it themselves. The more we partake of Christ, the more like Christ we become. Luke 14:12-14 says “Then He [Jesus] also said to him who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you…”
But our churches are saying ‘Que ne mangent-ils de la croûte de pâté?’ The people have no bread? Let them eat cake.
Have you seen the attitude our communities have towards the Church today? Already there is an uprising. People are sick of the castle walls we build to separate ourselves from the dirt and “sin”, because they know we are not living any differently than they are. God has given us His resources and the only food that satisfies the soul, and we gorge ourselves while the world starves.
False religion always separates its follower from the needs of your community. True religion visits the sick and imprisoned, cares for orphans and widows, feeds and gives drink to the hungry, and gives clothes to those with nothing.
I challenge our churches to faithfulness and social holiness. These are the benchmarks of an effective Christian and a vital and healthy Church. Wesley said that there is no holiness without social holiness. The Church IS the community. We work, play, live, and breathe alongside everyone else, and the only difference that matters between anyone is whether or not we are following Jesus. We cannot claim Christianity while ignoring the needs of our community. If we do, then we are acting the part of doomed nobility. We are dead and we don’t even know it.
Many churches are dead because their people have replaced the cross of Christ with a crest of nobility – a false sense of superiority. Jesus speaks to this type of people. He called them white-washed tombs.
Let’s forget about our cake and get back to the business of the Bread of Life. Our mission is to offer Jesus to the world – rich, poor, young, old, male, female, sinners, and saints.
The poor don’t have bread? Then let’s do whatever it takes to feed them!