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Go Out Among the Poor



Although the comparison is over-used, it is not inaccurate to compare Jesus Christ to a modern-day street preacher. Jesus was viewed as a radical and a troublemaker by many members of the Jewish and Roman community. It is often said that Jesus was willing to go out among the immoral (the adulteress described in John 8:1-11), to care for the poor (sell your belongings to give to the poor Mark 10:21-22), and to see the good in the outcasts (the story of the good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37).


These exhortations are often read in light of America’s growing homelessness problem and the epidemic of drug addiction that has swept the nation. [1] However, these passages from scripture should not be read in a reductivist way that is often portrayed as a means of shaming Christians who “fail” to give money to beggars on the street or support favored political causes. The reality is that homelessness is not solved by the well-intentioned who inadvertently give cash that enables the drug-seeking behavior of those who are suffering the throes of drug addiction. [2]


Jesus’s concern for those in need, whether spiritual, physical, or social, is far more holistic and expansive than simply following contemporary altruistic trends or political causes. Instead, Christian love is a compassionate agapistic love that is placed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

This is a love that comes only from the mercy of the Almighty and the Holy Spirit, who grants us the gifts like Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude (Might), Knowledge, Piety (Devotion - Delight in the Lord), and Fear of the Lord that enable us to bless the world (Isaiah 11:1-3).

If this love and these gifts are manifested in our lives, we should not turn away the cries of our Fallen world. We should not ignore those who are destitute. We should not seal ourselves away from God’s wounded Creation.


Unfortunately, sealing ourselves away is all too easy to do, especially given our tendency to avoid the distasteful and the unpleasant. As one recent Atlantic author highlighted:


“Across the country…[people who] decry the U.S. Supreme Court for ending affirmative action, sleep every night in exclusive suburbs that socially engineer economic (and thereby racial) segregation by government edict. The huge inequalities between upscale municipalities and their poorer neighbors didn’t just happen; they are, in large measure, the product of laws that are hard to square with the inclusive In This House, We Believe signs on lawns in many highly educated, deep-blue suburbs.” [3]


One could easily take this article to decry liberal hypocrisy for simultaneously supporting regulations that create segregated communities and also claiming to champion the oppressed. However, this is not about liberal or conservative; this research serves as a metaphor for our broader tendency to isolate ourselves from those we deem “impure.” No one is immune from this tendency, not even Christians.


While we are empowered to love through the Holy Spirit, each of us must still choose to act upon its whispers in our hearts. It is for that reason that we are constantly reminded in the Lord’s Prayer that it is God’s “will be done” (Matthew 6), not our own. We are called to freely choose to follow God’s will, whether that be in our care for the morally afflicted, the impoverished, or, yes, even the outcasts by going out among them. While this may not take the form of giving money to those begging at the intersection, it can take the form of mentoring youth in foster care or providing physical and emotional support to unwed mothers. While these acts may feel uncomfortable or inconvenient, they align with the calling of Christ to care for those in need. We must have faith that we will be empowered to accomplish this calling through the Holy Spirit.

As even Jesus Himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42), “[Father,] yet not my will, but yours be done.”


Amen.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.

 

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