As I think about this Poverty 101 Blog it can sometimes be difficult to know what to talk about. The reality is that there are so many things to choose from that it can be overwhelming. Kind of like that kid who walks into a playroom that is wall to wall to ceiling full of toys. They often just sit there looking at it all without really making a decision about which toy to play with. It has been a little bit like that for me trying to decide what we should cover in this.
So, this morning I have decided to go back to the beginning. And where do we begin? Well, as those who call Jesus “Lord” and strive to follow God’s Word, that must be the place to start, with God’s Revelation through the Scriptures.
One of the passages that first led me to begin thinking about our call to serve the poor comes from Paul in Ephesians. I remember reading it during my quiet time one morning in Seminary. In Chapter 4, verse 28 while telling the Church in Ephesus what the Christian life is supposed to look like, Paul says, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with those in need.”
I remember thinking to myself that there were a lot of other ways that Paul could have finished that sentence. Based on my understanding as a young man I would have said something like, “so that people will ask about the change in your life and you can share the gospel with them.” Or, “so that people will know that God is at work in you and the Holy Spirit can use that to draw people to God.”
But Paul doesn’t do that. And we might think that Paul misses an opportunity there to share the Gospel. But he doesn’t.
Our call to spread the Good News is wrapped up in that call from Paul. If we are going to attempt to evangelize the lost and not do anything about caring for the needy among us then we are just pretending. When we care for the “least of these” the Gospel is lived out and the Kingdom of God is advanced.