Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Caring for the Poor

When Jesus began his earthly ministry, He stated His purpose in a statement at the synagogue in Nazareth. Reading from the Book of Isaiah He said, “God's Spirit is on me; He's chosen me to preach the message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, ‘This is God's year to act!’” Later, the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:10, referring to the church at Jerusalem, “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

A central message throughout scripture is the importance of caring for the poor, the homeless, the orphans, and widows. It is not our place to judge how they got there, but only to do what we can to help.

Last night, Sky Blue, (Bob, Theresa, & Jim) played a special concert for about 100 homeless men at the Kansas City Rescue Mission. http://www.kcrm.org/ We didn’t preach to them or beat up on them, but rather, attempted to bring some light and joy into their lives. We were very warmly received and it was a very good experience. I am sure we will do it again soon.

This morning I attended a meeting of the Leawood, KS Chamber of Commerce. Leawood is one of the highest income per capita cities in the United States. The meeting was only about a twenty minute drive from the rescue mission, but the contrast between the two groups couldn’t have been greater. Frankly, I am right at home in the Leawood group, and I felt a little uncomfortable at the mission, but one doesn’t have to very observant to know where the greater need is. Jesus didn’t call us to be comfortable.

I have spent most of my life thinking about the difference between the people at the Chamber of Commerce and the ones gathered at the rescue mission. At the chamber meeting we talked about all the great new restaurants in Leawood. The people at the mission were there because of an offer of free food and a warm place to sleep.

So far, my only conclusion about the difference is: not that much. When I was five years old, I was told I was smart, that I could do anything I wanted, and I was encouraged to read. Most of my new friends at the mission were told they were dumb, that they would never amount to anything, and they never read a book. Encouragement verses discouraging comments, education verses dropping out, maybe a few bad choices, and the difference is either sitting in a nice office in Johnson County or standing in a food line at 15th and Cherry.

Jesus knew the differences were small. I firmly believe that God provided some with abundance to help those in need, but 80% of churches do nothing at all for the poor or homeless.

No matter what your situation, there is always something you can do to help someone less fortunate, even if it is just singing them a few songs.