Tag Archives: poverty

Paul Teaches Us To Love

 

Agape Love Like Jesus

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.


Romans 8:35-39

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.

chesed-love

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.

 

We Need More Than Jesus

 

Take the World

I love the classic Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell song, “You’re All I Need To Get By”, it’s a song that speaks of a couples dedication and need for each other. Ashford and Simpson were talented writers, but as beautiful as this song is, I would hate for someone to think that I was the only thing they needed to get by in life; frankly that’s too much pressure. I don’t need someone depending on me emotionally for survival, no thanks!

I often hear people saying that all they need is Jesus, “Just give me Jesus”, “Jesus is all that I need” and other phrases of that sort. I’ve also read clichés and comments like these in one too many books. Christians tend to get all bent out of shape when I tell them that I need more than just Jesus. If you’re wondering what I would need more than Jesus here is my list:

  • Oxygen
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Sleep

Jesus is an important part of our spiritual lives as believers, but we need more than him in order to meet our most basic essentials for survival. Jesus never said that he was taking the place of what human beings need in order to survive on earth.

Give Me Jesus

It’s easy to misread the gospels and incorrectly assume that Jesus wants us to believe that we don’t need the essentials of life when we have him in our lives, but he never alluded to that. What Jesus did tell us, was that we are not to worry about obtaining our daily needs. Worry never leads to anything good. Worry leads to heart attacks, increased risks of stroke, stomach ulcers, muscle tensions leading to headaches and, various aches and pains.

Matthew 6: 27-34 is where Jesus tells us not worry because God will provide for us and a reminder that worry doesn’t add any years to our lives. While worry doesn’t solve our problems, we can’t ignore them by assuming that God will provide our basic needs. The fact is, millions of people have died from starvation, the elements, and from not being able to breathe. Doing what needs to be done on a daily basis in order to meet our basic needs for living is not a sign of worry or a lack of faith in God.

We are fortunate to live in North America where no child will have to die of starvation or malnourishment. Even the poorest person in the city can find an abandoned building or create makeshift shelter somewhere in the city. For those on the other side of the world it is not so easy for them to be told that they don’t need anything except Jesus to survive, because the falsehood of such a statement is real to them.

In Christ

What I take from Jesus’ statement about worrying is that it is useless. He knows that worrying isn’t going to make a difference and he wants his followers to be aware of this. He wants his followers to turn from the wastefulness of worrying and instead, take that energy and focus on giving God our concerns and fears. By handing over our worries to God we able to focus more on finding a solution. Worrying doesn’t allow us to be calm enough to think clearly. The sad truth is that despite praying to God, despite trusting him to take care of our human needs, there is no guarantee that these essentials will be met and the worst that could happen, that being death, might actually happen.

Our worship of God is filled with paradoxes, things that might seem contradictory, and lots of asking ‘why God why’; but with each new day we have to continue to trust and have faith in God, allow the confusion, and accept the unknown. I don’t know what the answer is to ending war, world hunger, and injustice, and why God allows these to continue to happen, but I do know this; we need more than Jesus.

If the spirit of Christ is within us, we will see those around us who are in need, and in whatever way we can, we will help others. And for those who lack the essentials in life, we will continue to trust that God is good even when our basic needs are not met. Matthew 11: 28-30

He Gives Us Rest

QUESTION:

Do you believe that Jesus is all that we need to survive? If not, what would be on your list of things that we need other than Jesus for survival?

How do you answer those who ask why God “allows” people to die at the hands of war, die of starvation, or other atrocities?

REFLECTION:

Read or watch the news this week, make note of when famine, starvation, lack of clean water, and war is mentioned. Take time to pray for their essential needs to be met.

During your time of prayer remember to bless the LORD for all the essentials for living that you have.