This is day 3 from my series as a participant in Write 31 Days (www.write31days.com). Everyday in October I will be writing about lessons I’ve learned, theological reflections, and observations inspired by the letters of St.Paul/Apostle Paul based on my work in the inner city. I will only post an email once a week on Sundays, however the other entries can be found on my home page by clicking the menu header Write 31 Days. Please feel free to read them. These entries won’t be long, in depth or academic. They are intended to be read like a short devotional.
Through out this series I want to take the words and teachings of Paul and see how we can apply them to how we serve and live among those who are in poverty, those who are low-income and those who struggle with making ends meet.
“Can anything separate us from Christ’s love? Can trouble or problems or persecution separate us from his love? If we have no food or clothes or face danger or even death, will that separate us from his love? As the Scriptures say,
“For you we are in danger of death all the time.
People think we are worth no more than sheep to be killed.”
But in all these troubles we have complete victory through God, who has shown his love for us. Yes, I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not death, life, angels, or ruling spirits. I am sure that nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us or nothing below us—nothing in the whole created world—will ever be able to separate us from the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I wish I could shout loud enough for people around the world to hear this, “GOD LOVES POOR PEOPLE!”. Not just poor people, but those who are homeless, those who are drunk on a street corner, those who are living on the streets because they can’t conquer the issues that keep them addicted to drugs, he loves those who people avoid while walking down the street. He loves the lady who seems to always be having conversations with people that only she can see. He loves the angry man who keeps warning us about the government’s plan to implant chips into our brains and read our minds against our will. Yes, He loves them all.
Paul tells us that nothing in this world or above or below this world can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. What a relief.
It’s easy for people who are homeless and residing on the streets to feel that God doesn’t love them. The life experiences which often lead to substance abuse, mental illness, and trauma are the root causes of these three contributors of poverty. I hear too many Christians who think the answer to poverty is for homeless people to get a job, and for those who live in poverty to get a “better” job. If this were truly the answer, there would be no poor people in North America. When an answer seems too simple, it usually means it’s unrealistic.
I often hear Christians say that people are on the streets as a result of their sins. This is a dangerous belief. We are all sinners, so why is it that we only see people in poverty as being a victim of their sin? How often do we see middle class or rich people as being successful due to sin? There are plenty of rich people who become multi-millionaires as a result of sin, but we don’t point at them as sinners. Instead, we are told to follow their examples and we too can become successful.
I wanted this first post to be about love, because that is the foundation for everything we do. All we do must start with love and be fueled by the love of Christ (see all of 1 Corinthians 13). This is one thing I ask of people who decide they want to “help the poor”; please do it from a place of love. Not pity, not self-righteousness, not peer pressure, and not selfishness; just love.
I look forward to sharing with you the spiritual and theological lessons, reflections, and insights that I have learned about working in the inner city, with the homeless and those who are low-income.