“Despite the fact that God’s heart for the poor is mentioned in some 2,100 verses of Scripture, many of us simply miss it. In a recent survey of adults in America conducted by Harris Interactive, although 80 percent of adults claimed to be familiar with the Bible–the best-selling book in history–46 percent think the Bible offers the most teachings on heaven, hell, adultery, pride or jealousy. In fact, there are more teachings on poverty than on any of those topics. …[And a] mandate for Christians to ‘go and do likewise’ (Luke 1:10) as laid out so clearly in the parable of the Good Samaritan…. How did Christianity drift so far from Jesus’ mandate to care for the widows and orphans? …From the first days of Christianity, followers of Jesus have demonstrated distinct concern for the poor and the oppressed. The apostle Paul speaks in Acts about returning to Jerusalem to bring ‘gifts for the poor.’ The early Christians rescued abandoned children and stayed in plague-ridden cities to help the sick. …When St. Francis leaped off his horse and embraced a leper, he was emulating what he’d read about Jesus. Throughout history, Christians have had a strong, if sometimes inconsistent, record of battling social ills. While some used the Black Death as an opportunity for fear mongering, Christians were among the few to remain in disease-ravaged cities to care for the sick. While many Christians acquiesced to slavery, it was a Christian, William Wilberforce, who led the fight to end the British slave trade and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others joining alongside him who championed racial equality in the United States. …Care for the poor and suffering should be at the core of our Christian faith because it is at the core of God’s desire–written large across the pages of the Bible.” Lamar Vest and Richard Stearns
“For I was hungry, and you fed me.”
Jesus in Matthew 25:35
Moving From Head to Heart
- Well known Pastor Rick Warren was stunned the first time he noticed “the sheer volume of verses in the Bible that express God’s compassion for the poor and oppressed.” How about you? Are you still thinking the Bible’s biggest concern is heaven, hell or adultery?
- Historically, many Christians emulated Jesus in their treatment of the poor and oppressed–and many others acted shamefully. If this is the measure, how are you doing?
- Do you attempt to use your influence in the church to see that the poor are helped? …in your political party?
Jesus, I will follow you in caring for the poor, the helpless, and the oppressed.
For More: The Poverty and Justice Bible
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