Is it just me or is there a recent surge stressing the need for taking care of the poor? Is THE CHURCH really stepping it up like scripture commands us to do or is it now just cool to be about the poor? Was it because Bono made speeches asking 'Where is the Church?" Or is it because mega churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback are now pouring millions into missions and AIDS prevention and clean water efforts? Is that why it is cool-because the "big churches" are now involved?
I propose we need to be involved with fighting poverty and taking care of the poor first and foremost because we are commanded to do so, not because we are blindly following the efforts of another church or ministry. Fighting poverty is not a fad or passing church strategy that is quickly shelved when the next new concept of 'doing church' comes down the pike. If the Church is going to BE the Church, then, we that are the church, must stop just talking about it and begin to live it out.
We live it out by being among the poor, praying for the poor, sharing or giving of our possessions, supporting causes and ministries that impact the poor, and by making conscious choices in our own lifestyles. What do you do with your time? Where have you volunteered recently? Who do you support financially? Where do you send your checks? Who do you buy from?
With Christmas around the corner, everyone is shopping feverishly for that perfect gift. We rummage through all of the multiple choices we have at the mall, we battle for position in line at the register like a defensive lineman, we throw our plastic down-One Hundred, Two Hundred, Three Hundred... and worry about paying it later. We add more stuff to our living quarters, add more pounds to our waistlines, and count our blessings for how good we have it.
Meanwhile there is a man outside in the bushes trying to find refuge under his cardboard box to keep out of the cold rain. There is a family going to bed hungry because Dad still hasn't found work for the winter since budget cuts at the old job left him unemployed. There's an elderly person sitting by an open kitchen stove trying to keep warm because they can't pay their utility bill. Then of course there are the millions of orphans in 3rd world countries like Ethiopia and Haiti that I have visited that scrounge for 1 meal of rice today and walk miles to pour clean water into a container from a community well that was provided for by believers who sacrificed some money and lived out what the Bible commands.
It takes more than talk to make a dent in poverty. It takes sacrifice, planning, lots of prayer, commitment and living out what you say you really do believe. How strongly do you really believe? Your life will prove it.
As you prepare for Christmas and the hope that comes with the season, consider how you may provide hope for some 'of the least of these.'