( IMAGE BY RICHARD BOLLAND)
When it comes to loving the poor, I feel that I, along with many other Christians still have not got it right. Actually, we suck. Raise your hand if you feel good when you give some spare change to the boy who comes up to your car window at the intersection. I know I do. This is because I have learned to become satisfied with those “saintly” actions, they have become enough for me, and they have become enough for my faith.
A while back, I read a book called The Irresistible Revolution written by hippy-missionary-radical author Shane Claiborne. In his book, he mentions the poor a lot, and quotes plenty of famous people on this topic. One particular quote was by this very wise, lovely lady named Mother Theresa – you may have heard of her. Her words really struck a nerve in me and since reading them I have been disgusted at myself for thinking that handing out R2 at the traffic lights was good enough.
” In the poor we find Jesus in his most distressing disguises”
Imagine what would happen if we started to see every poor person as being Jesus in dress up. I know for a fact that I would definitely give him more than a measly R2 coin. In fact, according to the Bible, in order to feel complete I should sell all my possessions and give the money to the poor (Matthew 19:21). Hectic.
Let’s just say I have started opening my eyes more to what it really means to be a follower of Christ and to love Jesus. I think that we need to all get out of our middle to upper class comfort zones and throw ourselves wholeheartedly into loving and serving the people in society that we feel superior to, that we maybe feel a little afraid of, and that we possibly would rather just pretend are not there.
How many of us would open up our home to a child that is sitting alone on a street corner with just a rubbish bag for warmth. How many of us would take ten minutes of our time to speak to the man with one leg who is ‘looking for food, a job, clothes, anything ‘ and find out about his life and offer him what we can, even if its just some love and Jesus. The generation that I am a part of has so much to offer if only we would open our eyes and look past our iPhones and expensive clothes and safe lives. Now I’m not saying having that stuff is a bad thing, because it’s actually a blessing, but what IS bad is when that kind of stuff blocks our vision to the reality of the world – a world filled with sick, dying, heartbroken people who desperately need to be loved.
I think the best way to encourage you in this would be through this scripture in Matthew 25:31-46. The whole passage is amazing, but a key line for me is this one: ( Jesus is speaking) “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me ‘
So, what if God was one of us….the Joan Osborne song says “just a stranger on a bus”, but I say what if God was just a young orphaned girl, or a cripple who lives in a shelter, or a young boy whose life of poverty is turning him to drugs and petty crimes. What would our actions towards those people be?
Let’s be the generation that makes a difference, the generation that makes the world open their eyes to what Jesus was really all about, the generation who loves the poor.