When I read Scripture it becomes quite clear that God cares deeply for the plight of the poor. One place that drives this point home is Deuteronomy 15:1-18. All through the OT God is concerned about justice. God cares deeply about righting the wrongs in our world and in and among his people. Jesus spoke and taught as well, about a kingdom value that seeks to care for the widowed, orphan and poor (cf. Matthew 25). As followers of Jesus, as people praying for the coming of Kingdom more fully on earth as in heaven we are called to serve our communities and our brothers and sisters.
How does your congregation serve the poor? How does your congregation care for the poor? Is there a limit in the help that a family or an individual receive. OT doesn’t seem to limit the help a person can receive. After all, in Deut 15 the chapter opens with the year of canceling all debts. In Matthew 25, Jesus doesn’t limit the help to the least of these, does he? He doesn’t seem to be concerned about any one ever taking advantage of the help he gave. Sure there were those that came only to be entertained or to receive a free lunch, but Jesus still loved them. As a church, is there a line? I don’t think there is. But, what else could we as the church be doing to invest ourselves in our communities? I am grateful to work of Larry James and others who are invested in their communities and making a difference.
The mission Jesus gave us to go and make disciples begins with a relationship with Jesus. We can’t pass on the good news of what God has done in and through Jesus without first being a child of the King. We have forgotten as well, that part of our mission of sharing the good news is serving those who are poor. In Luke 4, Jesus opens with a quote from Isaiah, that talks about proclaiming release to the prisoner, proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor, etc. We are called to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do. I heard Jeff Walling compare this to a VBS class. All the little kids come into the class and are given objects already cut, ready to be glued or whatever. Who made those projects? The little one’s found the work that was already prepared. God is the same way for us. We are called to live the mission everywhere. When we see a need, I believe God wants to us to meet it. Whether it a be a single pregnant teenager with no hope for a better tomorrow, or a strung out drug addict with present. God loves the loser, the weary, the addict, the hungry, the poor. When we join God in this mission to do kingdom work, we are being Jesus to those we met, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Cor. 5).