Opinion

CHURCH CORNER: God calls us to love “our poor”

By Marcus Kelly

New Life Foursquare

Years ago, I sat in a staff meeting at Grace Church in Federal Way. Pastor Mike McIntosh was leading a discussion that has since changed my life. I don’t think he came into the meeting intent on changing my mindset. Rather, he came in wrestling with a challenge that God dropped in his heart. A question that he had been working through. So he thought he would just hit those of us sitting around the table with it to get our thoughts.

He looked at us and asked, “Is it the poor or our poor?” I don’t think anyone in the room was ready to answer a question like that. Though some in the room were quick with a response, I had to think about it. I’m one of those people who has to process for a day or two. OK, sometimes I have to process for up to a month on something like this.

This question challenged me to the very core of my Christian beliefs. As a Christian do I have a responsibility to the poor? Why should I be bothered with them? It’s probably their fault they’re needy anyway, right? Besides, I have important evangelistic things to do, like introducing people to Jesus. The problem with these thoughts is that I have to ignore scriptures like James 2:14-16, which says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”

It seems to me that God wants his people to be practical as well as spiritual. How easy it is to hide behind religious lingo and traditions. But when we do it keeps us from the ones God so desperately loves. In reality, sometimes it’s the pastors and ministers who hide behind religious lingo and traditions. And all too often our congregations hide behind their pastors.

All through the Bible there is a common theme that God cares deeply for those in need. Romans 5:6-8 says, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7‚ For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8‚ But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I believe God’s heart is revealed in this scripture toward those in need. While I was poor in spirit and in desperate need Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for me. Christ took responsibility for me. Now I have a responsibility to others.

I’m not writing this to condemn the church or anyone for that matter. Many on the Plateau are very generous. I just want us all to think about what is truly important to God. Is it that we are blessed? And are comfortable in our warm houses with our 2.5 children and a dog? I believe God has called us to more. I believe God has called us to love the poor – our poor. As we accept Christ into our lives we also accept his heart for people.

I’ll leave you with this thought from Proverbs 19:17, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and he will repay you!”

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