Martin Luther King Jnr said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. This conversation is important!
I live in a country with massive inequality between the haves and the have-nots, as is true for most nations around the world. This issue must call us to some kind of action, and the problem is we mostly don’t know what to do. Shane Claiborne says it like this: “I had come to see that the great tragedy in the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor, but that rich Christians do not know the poor.” We will only treat the poor with dignity once we ‘see them’, not as poor but as people.
Being unnoticed, unloved and unwanted is perhaps the most terrible thing about poverty. We must remember that people’s hunger for love is far stronger than the hunger for bread. This really represents the heart of the gospel… that God loves humanity. He gives dignity and honour to us. I love the words of Nelson Mandela: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right to dignity and a decent life”. This is the ‘just’ work all Christians should be part of… being dispensers of grace. Giving to the poor is not primarily charity BUT JUSTICE… it’s love in action.
We are bearers of good news to the poor. Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
We cannot hide behind our fences and walls and pretend that the poor don’t exist. You may have observed recently that the world is changing with a new president in the White House and many nations leaning more towards protectionism and nationalism than ever before. This gives the Church an unprecedented opportunity to model openness and love, while the world wants to build walls.
God’s heart is for the poor and afflicted to the point where God makes Himself indebted to those who remember the poor. “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” (Proverbs 19:17 ). We cannot think of the
poor as beneficiaries of occasional acts of generosity to appease our conscience, but instead, as we work in partnership with the Holy Spirit, He opens our eyes to see people’s true worth. It allows us to see the gospel afresh, so the poor are not ‘a need’ but a resource through which we discover the true heart of the gospel again.
In doing this God will move us out of our comfort zones as we build relationships with people from different races tribes and tongues – exactly like we are encouraged to do in the scriptures. We cannot do what the world does and respond with fear and build our walls higher… we must respond with faith and be builders of friendships and relationships all around our cities.
At the Global Leadership Summit last year I listened to Melinda Gates speaking about a changing world and I was inspired to do what I can. I believe that if we all do what we can do in obedience to what God is saying, then a message of good news to all can permeate our cities and communities.
Mother Theresa said: “So don’t wait to do great things, do small things with great love”.
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