Monday, October 16, 2006

Jesus & the Poor

I could not leave well enough alone. These are just some thoughts on Jesus and the poor which are mostly my dad's thoughts with my embellishments.
These are my own thoughts on all the fruitful blogging that has taken place over the last few days. I know that we have not specifically addressed the poor, except to put it in context of "poverty theology" which I guess is a fancy meaning for "we don't have to subscribe to it." But I feel differently and am beginning to focus on the ways in which the Holy Spirit is revealing actual ways to help in a physical way. These are fun days.

Jesus and the Poor
a. Jesus references the poor 58 times in the NT why? And why, in the one prayer he taught us to pray, did he teach us to pray daily for our bread? Daily does not sound like we should have a stock pile of bread for ourselves when others go hungry.

b. Required commandments are only two: Love the Lord your God and Love one another (your neighbor). We excuse our requirement to love them with material goods and think that loving them means only spiritual love. Or we claim not to know who our neighbor is - so we are unobligated to love them.

We, I believe, are to love them with food, shelter, clothing and compassion.

c. Health & Wealth gospel is an American Gospel twisted to appeal to our fundamental need for bigger and better. Only our country is concerned with having more than you or more than my neighbor. The command is NOT that we have more than our neighbor; its that we LOVE them. Period. We are the only country in the world that has written in our constitution that we actually have a right to happiness. I don't think that God is too concerned with our rights when we sit back and allow atrocities in our own church related to the poor and suffering. How many people in the church pews do you know could use help?

d. Jesus probably was not poor what faith healer do you know that is poor? However, he commanded that we (the church) take care of the poor. We do not do this, instead we seek blessing on our lives, maybe not at the expense of others, but others are suffering. The church has no formal mechanism to help the poor. The early church (see Acts 2:45 & 4:34, 35) knew that Jesus was serious in his command as they had a daily distribution of food the arugment may be that food storage was different then and yes, I agree, however, the command to care for the poor is not different, yet when you need an excuse any one will do.

e. John Wesley (of whom our Nazarene doctrine was founded on) stated that if we have luxuries while our neighbor is suffering we are not saved and will go to hell. Now, this is not the prosperity gospel that sells well in America. We do not want to hear that if we have and others have not, we'll go to hell but I don't think Jesus was kidding when he commanded that we love our neighbor, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, clothe the naked. This is not something I want to risk regardless of if Moses, Abraham, Joseph, Job were all wealthy. I also don't think Jesus was joking when he said if you do not do this, you do not know me.

f. We require the poor to help themselves, before we will help them. This is not the model Jesus taught. Jesus I will not take the risk of having steak when my neighbor eats tuna for dinner night after night.

Keep in mind, these are my thoughts - through the lense of my own experience and my upbringing. I was brought up to ALWAYS consider those less fortunate than ourselves. As a pastor's kid, I remember times when we had Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner with people in the church and I had no idea why - I thought everyone had food and family to share with. It was not until I was older did I realize that my folks were feeding these people. I know my sisters remember this and probably felt the same thing. So, we grew up with parents who always gave more of themselves than they probably had - so we had good models!
Today, my dad has potluck at his church every Sunday because probably half the folks that worship there would go home hungry if it were not for Sunday potluck - another eye-opener for me - in my own church!

So read in love - it's posted in love of Jesus and seeking to do his commands and with a commitment to action...the action of a poverty theology.

Next post - Who are the poor?


TheologyMom said...

You go girl! I agree wholeheartedly...the tension I have is that I really enjoyed my steak last where is the balance. I guess for now, the tension is where I'm living. And looking for places where I can help, even a little bit. It is so hard to get over myself and my needs to see others needs. Last Easter when Mark suggested we invite a homeless man he was working with to dinner, my first reaction was not loving. All I could think about was my uncomfortableness (is that a word?) What would I say to him, etc? But we had him over and it was great, the earth didn't spin backwards or anything...:)

Holly said...

Here is a life lesson taught to me by our father that has stayed with me always:
Dad and I were pulling out of a parking lot in Southern California. A man stood with a sign that said, "Will work for food." Dad rolled down the window and handed him $5. I, in my 13 year old wisdom, pondered this for all of about two seconds when I questioned my dad, "Why did you give hime money if he's just going to go buy alcohol?" Dad said, "Jesus commands us to give, not to judge." It is so simple and so true. So give freely and without abandon. Thanks Dad for the great and lasting lesson!

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Mark said...

I think that it is the funniest thing ever - that on your blog about the poor and living simply so others can simple live - (you did not say this - but I love the phrase) you got hit by a spam on making some extra cash - now that could be in a song (ironic) please leave it. I say we have a giant garage sell - sell our extra's so some can have...we could start a pool of funds to help folks - or take a trip to Haiwaii

Red Letter girl said...

We got a call this morning from a single mom wanting to know if we had any scholarship funding for her child's lunches.

This makes me live in tension. Her child is on full scholarship and now needs help with lunches. It's going to be hard (and expensive!) to work here! I will not let little children starve!

Jesus said...

proud of you

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I work at a Christian School district only 4 miles from my home. The people there are full of grace and love and I am glad to be a part of this ministry. I have a neice and nephew whom I love dearly. They are 12 and almost 15 respectively. I have two amazing sisters and two amazing brothers-in-law. Of course, I would not be here if it were not for my mother agreeing to marry my dad. Good going mom! My parents are my life and I would literally be NOTHING without their unconditional love, support and care. You rock mom and dad. Then there's Will & Lora...their giggles are like sunshine and their parents crack me up too.

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