Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Steps of Jesus Lead to the Poor


Matt.25: 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Matt.19: 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Lk.4: 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

My two sons coach a varsity and junior varsity girl’s basketball team in a public high school. I cannot communicate to you just how “challenging” the home life is for the majority of these precious girls. Most of them are African American and Latino, but that should never matter to us believers except that we should understand the depth of their challenge. I lived for 22 years before my mother died and I only heard my parents quarrel once. I lived a Disneyland existence compared to what girls like these live.

And these and other teachings that I have posted clearly reveal the heart of God as it pertains to the poor. The prosperous church in America has given token importance to the plight of the poor in America, to say nothing about the poor in other countries. It is an affront to the name of Jesus how American believers complain loudly about unemployment and welfare and the 47% of people who supposedly pay no taxes. The overwhelming majority of white Americans have no idea what it means to be a part of the marginalized and disenfranchised poor, or for that matter the subtle and overt implications of being an ethnic minority. And worse yet, the evangelical church in America clings to the founding fathers and turns a deaf and even a demeaning ear to the plight of millions of people who were raised in conditions conducive to poverty, immorality, and a fractured family unit.

You would think that in light of the life and teachings of Jesus that loving and ministering to the poor and the ignored would be one of the ways the church of Jesus Christ distinguishes itself from the rest of the hedonistic and political culture, but you would be wrong. The church heartily joins in to castigate the lowly or the lazy or the criminal elements without ever considering how they were raised, the opportunities that were denied to them, as well as the blessedness of our own upbringing. If Jesus had only died for those who deserved it no one would be saved, and yet we juxtapose our sense of morality and personal industriousness upon those who cannot see and are in desperate need of unconditional love which ministers to their need instead of condemning their situation.

You want orthodox doctrine? I have just given it to you in no uncertain terms. Go ahead and proudly display your Trinitarian credentials, or your Scriptural inerrancy resume, or your salvation by grace through faith alone doctrines. Go ahead. But how do you feel about the black mother who has five children through five different fathers? What does your heart tell you about the 13 year old black boy who brandishes a gun in the streets? What about the Latin kid who has never known his father and was arrested breaking into your own home? What does your heart say to you about these people?

Make no mistake about it, loving and serving the poor is every bit a Christian doctrine as the virgin birth. In fact there are more Scriptures about ministering to the poor than there are about many of our other doctrines. What about the Book of James? Is that inspired of God? Well here is what James says concerning faith without works:

Jam.2: 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Do you see what the Spirit has done? He has couched works in the context of serving the poor? Millions give up smoking after they are saved and we marvel at those wonderful works. Millions begin to go to church and we consider those great works. And yet the Spirit describes spiritual works of faith by caring and giving to the poor. So who is right, the Spirit or the church? Churches by the tens of thousands in America borrow millions to build lavish buildings and then pay interest for decades. How many churches have borrowed millions to minister to the poor and needy? Come on, let’s get real here. The church has been so affected and infected by this capitalist culture that we cannot even see how far we have strayed from true and pure Christianity.

And now the prosperity gospel preys upon the poor. There must be a special judgment upon such heretics. But the average “We are not a prosperity gospel” church still gives an embarrassing little amount of attention to the poor. We spend more on the monthly electric bill than we do the poor. Let a “professional” Christian musician come in and his love offering could feed many people. The money we waste upon ourselves is a great sin. And how do we justify such a practice in light of all the teachings about God’s servants reaching the poor? We do not have to justify anything…we have crafted our own brand of Christianity and loudly proclaim to believe the Bible.

As I mentioned my two sons coach a girl’s basketball team. Many of the girls serve as surrogate mothers to their younger siblings. Many sit home on weekends while their mothers go out. And I have watched my sons spend countless hours driving these girls to and from practice, and to and from watching other teams, and giving them some spiritual counsel as well as the gospel. And while I was attending a recent game where we were watching another team, the boys had picked up two of the girls to come along. These girls are thrilled to be out of the house. I went to the concession stand and as I returned I saw the girls sitting there. I turned to my oldest son to volunteer to pay for these girls to get something to eat and I saw my son quietly slip some money into their hands without them even expecting it. One girl is black with a large blond afro and the other girl is Latin with long beaded hair. They would be prime candidates for criticism from the evangelical community.

But I submit to you that my sons have many faults, almost as many as do I. But what he did was light years more of Jesus than taking a journey to a voting booth.


Anonymous said...

For the life of me, I don't understand how many christians don't see this. And if they can't give volunteer time to tend to the poor, they would speak evil of those who try to keep federal programs alive to relieve those poor. They would prevent even food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare services for hungry families? Necessary medications, treatments for disabled children. the sick elderly. They'd vote in a man or woman who spurns the poor, calls them lazy, unmotivated, entitled, victims, a pox on society. They support leaders who look down their noses on immigrants, calling them unproductive and ignorant.

Then a Fox News host boasts about how he worked bagging groceries, and drove his car to college, paid for his gas money, and didn't rely on government or hand-outs. Well, this man also had a supportive family unit and went to expensive university. Others boast how they are resilient and have such a work ethic and pride themselves that they aren't like others, who won't "pull themselves up by their bootstraps".

My husband lost his job (twice in one year). We went from a middle class family to a family almost on welfare. For a year we lived on savings, moving our U-Haul to two different cities, looking for work and finally accepting (very hard to do) state aid for a few months. We saw how easy it was to drop to poverty level in little less than a year. Job losses were happening all over the state, and the many families in our same situation were not lazy people.

It's easy to trash the poor - but those who do never experienced how the uncontrollable can happen overnight. And whether people lose everything because of their own fault, or situations beyond their control, they're not only without sustenance, but without friends, alone in knowing no one else can understand how easy it is to become needy.

And drug addicts, well, they are at the threshold of hell. Those who blame them for their yielding to drugs in the first place, never understand how that addict feels, feel hopelessness, and berating them when they're experiencing withdrawal does nothing. It just exposes how hypocritical these christians are.

The church is cold and unmerciful and has become a task master, whipping up hate and divisiveness towards the poor.
They are being easily influenced by influential wealthy men who will throw them under the bus as soon as they serve no purpose. Maybe when christians go through rough times, they will finally see the light.

Rick Frueh said...

Good word.

Anonymous said...

My oldest son is an iron worker. He is currently working erecting the steel structure for a stadium church here in Texas. We were talking a few weekends ago about the job and what was going into the construction of this church building. Just from what he has told me we estimated approximately 35,000,000 dollars construction costs. This church already has a three story structure that takes up a city block. This new addition will cover another city block. How big, never mind.

I was thinking that if this church had that kind of money to build this, how much more would they have benefited from paying a missionary’s salary or should I have said “missionaries”. I have known several missionaries in the past and they were all severely under-funded, most of the time. Two of these were my parents. I remember times when mom did not have the money to buy groceries and there just was nothing to eat.

I cannot tell you, in my limited thinking, about how you are not able to out give God. If you are following what you are instructed in those scriptures, Matthew 19, 25, Luke 4 & James 2, God will take care of you. Now, I don’t give to the needy, destitute or homeless, just to get something back from God. I am looking forward to the time when Jesus comes to take me to my real home! Oh Lord, I don’t want to stay in this hotel, I want to go home.


Cherie c. said...

I give to the poor because I was poor. Liquid Jello in my lunch box thermos some days, but that was much more than what other families and the homeless get most days.

My twin used to steal clothes from a local mini store mall when we were teenagers so we would have something to wear. It is good to know that some here had good family lives growing up. I am so blessed now, but then I felt scared and alone and thought the life I had was normal. I was the tough one, always defending my twin sister. Fighting to protect us both every week at school. If I didn't protect my sister she would have been killed by some. It is tough being a target everyday in school. I remember my mom telling us no new school clothes because my father spent a fortune on CB radios. My mom worked really hard. Hardly ever saw her except when she was off. She was a nurse and the only money coming in most of the time. My father like women. I guess she did her best. I praise God whenever I think of how I could have turned out. My older brothers and sisters didn't fair so well. At least I don't think so. I am blessed.

I spent Thanksgiving one year helping my twin sister serve at a soup kitchen. She turned to me and said that no matter how hard we had it, physical abuse and all, at least we had a roof over our heads and food. Hand me down clothes are better than none. My oldest sister was the first to get saved, although I don't know because she was with the charismatic movement in the 70's. She got saved, but left her husband who drank, and she left her children with us. She died in 1997, and I wonder if she is with the Lord.

I know Pastor of what those young ladies you wrote about are dealing with. I have been there too. Thank God for your two son's and for you being there to support them. Without your cares and prayers, they could be in a worse condition. I will pray for your son's team. Praise God, my prayer list is getting longer, and that means more time spent with the Lord. So grateful for the opportunity to pray.

I don't count what I give as anything special. I do however look for more ways to give. I wanted to start a girls counseling group to help stem the tide of teenage pregnancies, and all kinds of issues but I don't know where to start. I had my older sister tell me about the Lord. If it wasn't for her planing a seed, I could have been with a drug addict and pregnant by 18 too. No, not me, LOL I did not like men/boys growing up. I thought they were all like my father, so I stuck to chasing after my twin so she wouldn't get into trouble and my books. This is too sad to think of, I's going to stop now. Glory to God for all He does. Store up your treasures in Heaven dear brothers and sisters. Thanks for letting me share.

Love to all.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

I don't like to ask, perhaps it is pride, perhaps it is the reason God forgive me, but I need to covet your prayers.

My two unsaved sons are going to a ski resort this weekend and they are going to participate in winter sports they have never done before. I am afraid that they will get hurt or God forbid, killed. They are prideful thinking they can do anything. Please pray for God's Will, but to also protect them. That if anything happens that the Lord use it for His Glory. I do not need anymore sorrow right now, and I pray the Lord hears my prays and yours if you are led to pray.

I know it may sound silly, but people are killed at ski resorts all the time. I know this is a post about the poor, please forgive me. Perhaps I am making too much of this. Stepping out in Faith that you will understand. They shouldn't be going anyway, they really don't have the money to spend. They should keep the little they have for what they need, or better yet give it to those in need.

Feel free to blast me if you feel I am asking for something that is not right. As with all the lost, I feel terrible when someone passes away without knowing Jesus. I don't wish on my worst enemy what awaits the lost, rich or poor.

Thank you all.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

Joel, love the "stay in this hotel" relating to us staying on earth. I want to go home too. But Jesus said:

John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

John 14:3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

We wait for our Blessed Hope dear brother, we wait.

I hope this makes you feel a bit better this evening.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Mark said...

I love the way Mother Teresa said it: We are the only hands and feet Jesus has. Or maybe this is just her way of paraphrasing James?

What then do needy people--especially children--get from the Master's American 'hands and feet'? Their neediness surely isn't mitigated by some church in which they'll never be welcome 'investing' in a new building.

The Lord's face cannot be seen as loving when his hands only take and his feet only walk the other way. When the eyes become blind and the ears deaf whenever faced with things that make them uncomfortable.

Just whose message are we communicating when the so-called body of Christ is not recognizable as his?


Anonymous said...


I am not feeling down, nor am I distraught. I think that Rick would agree with me on this that to be a Pastor (Leader), you first have to become a servent. Jesus did not come down from heaven like He owned the placed and everyone was beneath Him. Jesus came down from heaven to be born in a stable. Reared in a family that had to work to have food on the table and a roof over their heads. He taught His twelve disciples how to become fishers of men. Then taught them to teach others how to shepherd those that came to Him. Then the authorities took Jesus, beating Him half to death, then nailed Him to a cross to die.

Yes, I may not want to be here, but aren't we suppose to yearn for His coming.

I know God can without the help of this "super church group" for us to feed the poor, visit the prisoner, give clothing to the naked and spread the Gospel of Jesus with our own time and the funds God allows us to have.

I know for a fact that the other construction workers on that church project are un-saved. Is anyone concerned about them? Now that makes me distraught.

I went to a church and looked into the baptistry, it was dry and bare, in need of repair. I soon found out that the congregation was the same.


Anonymous said...

Hi Cherie, I will pray for you and your family. God Bless you, Noel

Kim said...

I agree with lots of what you say here, Pastor Rick and others. I came from a very poor family of 7 seven children with a mom who stayed home and a dad who did factory work.

I have a heart for the poor - the unfed, the homeless, those who have little chance of bettering themselves. But one thing I see here in this country is that some of the poor and underprivileged in this country have been hoodwinked by politicians into relying on government and not on God. At one time, this WAS a mostly God-fearing country (and by "God-fearing", I mean in awe of and respect for and dependence on God). I really feel a lot of our problems have been caused by POLITICIANS who want to use the poor and needy to gain votes so they can remain in "power" and "increase their wealth". When a "poor" population has flat screened tvs, laptops, cell phones and every high tech, expensive toy available, own homes they can't pay for, expensive cars they can't afford, etc., it doesn't add up. I blame the politicians from both sides of the aisle.

There is a scripture in the OT (Isaiah, I think) that speaks of there being no justice in the courts, no one in leadership that can do right by the people, and that is where I see this country as being right now. I trust no politician. I'm sure many go into service thinking to do right but just as there was a spirit prince who kept Gabriel from Daniel, there is a spirit prince ruling over the USA right now and it is not a Godly one, so it is likely almost impossible to fight the "spirit" that rules in Washington. Men and women who lust for power and money are using and abusing the poor for their own purposes.
To say that "the Church" doesn't care for the poor...well, I know that isn't 100% true. My church has raised MILLIONS to send to Darfur, Sudan, and we are now sending of a portion to the poor right here in Dayton, Ohio. We have started three inner city churches since 2000 that are thriving. We must be careful who we are blaming. There are many who do care and are working hard for the poor. We are in a spiritual battle where if our adversary can use division within the Church to bring it down, He will. All things must be submitted God for prayer and consideration. I know there are "churches" that are likely there for show, but God always has a remnant for His use when the time is right. We must pray for and build up our brothers and sisters who for whatever reason are not as visible and engaged as we think they should be. God knows all, and He uses all for His purposes.

Cherie c. said...

Hi Joel,

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression. Yes, it is a good thing to yearn for the Lord's return. I know how that feels, but I was trying to comfort you in your yearning. Please forgive me if I said anything that was not given with love for the saints.

Hi Noel,

Thank you for your prayers.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Reading comments here and appreciate everyone.

Just pondering this message again, and another thing I've observed, is that people stereotype the poor. I remember growing up and hearing nasty remarks about people on welfare, saying things like, "they're lazy, they could dig ditches or shovel driveways, or mow lawns, but they drink beer and watch tv." Being on Welfare is a vicious cycle. Once a person relies on it, it's hard for them to get out, because shoveling someone's yard at $7.00 an hour for a few hours a day does not pay the rent, food, electricity and clothes for them and their children; and what money they bring in on the side must be legally reported as "income", and once they report it, that amount is deducted from their file, and can eventually remove their eligibility to receive any assistance.

With all the social problems there are, and while it's true, there's a portion of the population that grift and prefer to rely on government for everything, it hurts those who really need government assistance.

It's true too that our parent's generation made do with so much less, and couldn't depend on government, but that was in a time when human beings did fear God, and had more "charity" in their hearts. It wasn't as much a time of "me, mine, myself" then. People did reach out and had compassion. My husband's grandparents owned a small convenience store in the early 1900's and in cold winter months would take it transients who were passing through. They housed one man for a night, and later found lice in their house. That was the price they paid for being charitable, but they did it time and time again.

Today, we wouldn't dream of taking in a stranger off the street, worrying about catching all sorts of disease or undesirables. Today's generation will not approach the poor or even care about their next door neighbor's plight. In fact, most people today don't even know anything about their neighbors, nor their names, and they aren't interested. So, charity today is almost nil, compared to yesteryear. And that's why the poor cannot depend on the mercy and christian charity of others. We know that christians have to be out and work and strive and with our busy culture, no has takes the time to look left and right to see if a neighbor is in need. There are smaller communities that are concerned about neighbors and such, but with the "gun" culture affecting some christians these days, they seem more concerned about protecting their things, rather than share them.

I grieved when I heard politicians say "let the churches and charities look after the poor". There isn't enough to carry all these people through a winter in the church's storehouses and the souls of these poor also need tending to. Are churches willing to take the time to tend to the psychological and spiritual needs of these people? No, they're not, because the need is too overwhelming. But, with God, all things are possible.

My point being that if what I've observed is true, then if "government" is the only source that can at least provide some relief for the real true needy, why won't christians in the U.S. allow their politicians to support helping the poor? Despite the fact that some "poor" take advantage and lie about their need, there are real "poor" who may be asking the Lord for help, and the Lord has been known to use a donkey and other methods to send to help those who call on Him for.

It's the attitude of many today in churches regarding the "poor" and the ugly voices against the poor and the struggling, and disadvantaged kids, who have such potential, who get thrown in the ring with all the rest, as "lazy" or "looking for hand-outs" and "not doing their share", that is most grieving. If Jesus heard the things being said about the "poor", would He bless that?

Anonymous said...

If the Church espouses to be pro-life, why do they let many of the poor rot in their diseases here in America?

Anonymous said...

What's disheartening is who the church looks up to. It isn't the poor, or the poor in spirit, it's the idols, the entertainment "christians", or the sports "christians" or the successful wealthy christians, the wealthy mega-pastors, the christians who speak at churches and tour the country and earn a living by "sharing" the gospel (for a fee).

Funny how we are called to share the gospel, but I always thought sharing was giving what I had. Not taking money so I could speak the gospel to others.

The inspirational motivational christian speakers who are retired athletes, retired politicians, musicians, and retired icons of profitable industries, seem to be the only people that christians get excited about. They won't attend conferences unless that conference has a celebrity coming to speak.

If John the Baptist himself arrived in the U.S., with basic clothing, and a backpack and a walking stick, and preached on the streets to everyone saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!", he'd be ignored, or mocked as a homeless man who's looking for his 15 minutes of attention.

But for those christians who receive a lifetime of attention because of their worldly pursuits, they are accepted with open arms, their secret lives never discerned, and invited into the churches to speak about their accomplishments and their testimony. A testimony seems to mean nothing these days, unless it's accompanied by a great human feat that oohs and aaaahs the church.

And, those who don't have a "name" in the halls of the icons can't get near the pharisees who contribute to this shameful thing. The pharisees of today have their entourage and bodyguards, and lawyers unleashed if anyone calls them out on their apostasy.