“There can be little argument that the goal of the Christian life is to be more like Jesus… to act and think, to respond and speak like Jesus. And therefore, we must also aim for the priorities of Jesus.
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed’ (Luke 4:18).
We preach, and we preach good news, and we preach good news to the poor, I hope. But reaching out to the poor doesn’t necessarily come naturally. Unless ‘the poor’ are your family, friends and immediate community, it’s easy to not give them much thought. They often go unheard, not having a voice in society. They may not shop where we shop, hang out in the places where we socialize, or even attend our churches. And yet, they are to be a primary concern to us, as they are to God.
‘For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight’ (Ps. 72:12-14).
The answer seems obvious that we are to make a concerted effort to carry out God’s commands to love, serve and minister to the poor. Taking our faith out into the streets may mean searching for the streets that are hidden from our daily lives. It requires a missionary mentality… the kind of thinking and planning that goes into ministry to another culture different from our own. Because that is what poverty is, a culture. They live by different rules, having learned to survive with less than they need – less money and material possessions, but also less education, tools, opportunities, and options. And before we can really serve them, we have to learn from them what it means to be poor, and who they are.
‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?’ (Is. 58:6).
How do I minister to you? I get to know you, spend time with you, listen, ask questions and even share from my own life. And I have to show you that I care and can be trusted. This takes time, persistence, consistency and commitment. How do we minister to the poor? We meet them, befriend them, listen to and learn from them, love and serve them, and invite them into our family to share what we have – the hope and promise and freedom that comes from living in the light and love of God.
‘For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor. 3:17).”
– Cheryl and Lance Pittluck