Are you ever surprised by your thoughts? I am! Would you ever be in trouble if someone could read the caption over your head? I would be. Now for a little pastoral confession time...
When I see a REALLY dirty person...often I’m thinking, why don’t they take a shower. When I see someone who “looks” sort of poor or impoverished...I’m thinking, why don’t they get a job. When I see someone of certain ethnicities loitering around the church or my neighborhood...I’m thinking, what do they want or might they be “casing” the joint. When I see someone asking for money...I’m often thinking, don’t give them any. It’s going to end up going to drugs or alcohol.
Needless to say, God has used this series, “Hope Lives”, to ROCK my world! I am realizing I have a long way to go to be more like Jesus. Yet what I’m discovering through the comments, emails, interactions and conversations with many of you as you’ve let your guard down, much of your thinking runs along the same lines.
This causes me to think that it would be fair to say that American attitudes toward the poor...and perhaps not just in America...are mostly disdain and/or fear. Sometimes there's a suspicion that their condition is their own fault, that they're simply lazy or inferior. Other Americans are more kind-hearted but prefer not to look at the poor too closely, it's depressing and they're surely not fun people to be around.
I challenge you to allow God’s Word to go deep inside of you, as I’m asking that it goes way down into me. Here are some passages to reflect upon and consider...
“Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger/alien, the orphan, or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours in the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:20-21
“I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted and justice for the poor.” Psalm 140:12
“And Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, Jesus entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read... ‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He appointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the LORD... Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21
Jesus’ own words are enough to DISTURB me. I know the topics we’re discussing on the weekends are NOT easy. Thank you for praying for your heart. Thank you for seriously thinking about these topics. Thank you for considering the heart of God for the “least of these”.
P.S. Take a look at the thoughts of someone who went through the Third World Experience at The Crossing this past weekend.