Give It Some Thought, Please!

The governor of Mississippi once challenged each of the state’s 5,500 churches and synagogues to help one poor family to get back on its feet. That’s all – just take on one family. Only 267 took up the challenge. Within a few years, when they checked back, a mere 15 churches were still doing it and were matched with families who they were helping to get established again.

Surveys and statistics show that evangelical Christians are “significantly less likely” than are non-Christians to give money for AIDS education and prevention programs worldwide. And, of course, how often are Christians noted for their courageous defence of unpopular causes? Really very seldom.

Jesus said that we are to help those who are less fortunate than we are. We are to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit those in prison. (Matthew 25:31-46) He states that even a drink of cold water in His Name He will remember and reward. (Mark 9:41). The Good News is to be preached to the poor (Matthew 11:5) and must be done in a combination of words and deeds to fully preach the Gospel (Romans 15:18-19). This task does not end because Jesus said that “the poor you will always have with you.” (Mark 14:7) and so the work and the ministry to the poor will be a continual focus.

As I travel overseas I have come to redefine the term “poor.” In some places where I minister even those who are well off are not doing as well as the poor here in our nation. They are simply living one day at a time and eating one meager meal a day. They do not have a social welfare net to catch them nor a governmental system to aid them when they become unemployed or destitute. Drug addicts and alcoholics often cannot find state-sponsored programs to aid them in their recovery and so continue to live in their destructive lifestyle. It is every person for themselves in a less than pleasant reality.

This is where the church steps in and helps those who are the “poor” in their society. Drug addicts and alcoholics find local churches running rehabilitation centers; churches run food banks and used clothing depots; many have places for people to live right in their church buildings (they were built with this need in mind); and always on any given Sunday you find people from different walks of life and different income levels worshipping and fellowshipping together. They are there offering their neighbor a glass of cold water in Jesus’ Name. They are fulfilling the biblical mandate to care for the poor. And yet, by our standards, they are poor themselves. So, it is like one beggar sharing with another beggar what limited resources they might have. This is what Jesus would do – should we do any less?

The Book of James states (2:14-17): What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

And, so, back to you and me. Are we reaching out to help the less fortunate? Are we talking to that person down on their luck who asked for loose change? And, the guy who walked through the coffee show looking for someone to buy him a cup of hot coffee and something to eat – did we help him? Did we buy him what he needed without judging why he was in such a situation? And then did we sit and listen to him as he ate the meager meal? Or do we protect ourselves from those who appear so different from ourselves because we are afraid that we will find out that there really is little to no difference between us – except we have some money in our pockets and they don’t? We have so much and, in general, give so little! The believers overseas have much to teach us in this regard.

Jesus would have stopped for the one. He would have fed the one. He would have listened with His heart to their heart. Jesus would have stopped to hug the one. Jesus would have let them know that they were precious to the Father and that He cared. Jesus would have accepted them just as they are. He would feed them and even clothe them if needed. And, we are called to do no less as we are His hands and feet in the world today.

It may be time to reconsider how we live and begin to adopt a lifestyle more in line with the biblical standard and the heart of God than the one we currently embrace and protect. Just maybe!

1 reply
  1. Randall
    Randall says:

    Our Canadian system is not a godly one !
    Though we want to believe we are a kinder fairer society , and blame the down trodden for their own misfortune this in many , many , many instances is just not the case . When I say; I think , I,am really saying this is what i am comfortable believing ! Thank You Ralph , and the Merciful lord for inspiring you !

    Reply

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