Don’t Neglect the Poor

httpv:// Our family gathering yesterday in Church was absolutely gorgeous!  The various home churches thrilled us with their performances and we even had birthday celebrations!  Our video post for the day comes from the very entertaining and skilled dance performance by members of Home Church B. I pray you enjoy it.

Yesterday was the day we visited a poor community at the outskirts of Enugu, here in south eastern Nigeria. So my message was aimed at reinforcing our concern for the poor; it was titled, ‘Don’t Neglect the Poor.’

I’ve always been inspired by the depth of God’s concern for the poor expressed in the Law of Moses.

“God cares about the poor

It is amazing how much of God’s concern for the poor is revealed in the Scriptures.

‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.’ ~ Leviticus 23:22

How wonderful it would be if this attitude is pursued in the affairs of men today!

The sad reality, however, is that we live in a world that worships wealth and the wealthy, while despising, neglecting, and even exploiting and abusing the poor.”

The message continued with a strong challenge to the church and all religious peoples to take the lead in helping the helpless in line with the teachings of Scriptures.

“The Church should not neglect the poor

The church and all religious people should be models to the society in helping the helpless and honoring those among us who have nothing.

But, unfortunately, the church today has adopted worldly values and neglects the poor.

The founding fathers of the church – the Apostles – warned against attitudes and practices that despise the poor, as is reflected in the following rebuke:

‘Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!’ ~ 1 Corinthians 11:22

James 2:1-7

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to who you belong?

God’s mind on this matter is simple: Don’t humiliate the poor. Don’t insult the poor. Don’t neglect the poor.

Rather, we should honor them, support them, and give them a helping hand. We should be God’s arm of love to them at all times.

Jesus gives us an interesting approach towards dealing with the poor:

‘But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ ~ Luke 14:13, 14”

I drew a lot of inspiration for yesterday’s sermon from the example of the early church in how we should use church resources to overcome poverty among us.

“The example of the early church

The use of our resources reflects just how much we value those in our society who are helpless. The early church models for us how we are to care for the poor among us:

‘All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.’ ~ Acts 2: 44,45

‘All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.’ ~ Acts 4:32, 35, 35

I believe that the best use of the resources of the church is not to build expensive buildings, or run expensive shows and events. A lot of the millions that are used to build massive religious monuments and edifices, and to maintain huge religious empires could be better spent in the following ways:

· Feeding the poor. A lot of people who fill our church auditoriums can barely afford three square meals a day. Why aren’t more of the churches’ resources being channeled towards solving this problem?

· Sheltering the homeless. Churches spend massive resources to build expensive religious infrastructures. A lot of these buildings are rarely used. Lots of them are mostly empty for the better part of every week, while hundreds of parishioners survive at the brink of homelessness. At the least, church resources should be channeled towards housing subsidies for church members and the helpless within the society.

· Education. Many young people who flock to the churches today are from broken or very poor homes. Most of their parents cannot afford to give them quality education due to poverty, or other problems. Every church ought to make this a priority in the use of church resources.

· Health care. There are so many sick people in church today. Yes, we should pray for them and believe God to miraculously heal them. Yet God normally performs these miracles through quality healthcare. Churches should make this a high priority item in the allocation of their resources.

· Clothing. This is a valid need in the Church.  It is shocking to observe the level of lack in this area. I believe that our churches should make it a matter of high priority to provide clothing for the poor, particularly little children, and helpless orphans and old widows.

Ultimately, this is the essence of God’s love – the heart of true religion – to care for the very poorest of the poor amongst us.

‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ ~ James 1:27”

I extend the challenge to you too, today. Please, don’t neglect the poor.