“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” Proverbs 31:8-9
My heart breaks for individuals who are in need. I am not pointing this out to gain any popularity points or to put myself up above others, I just need to point out how my heart beats for people who are poverty-stricken, disenfranchised, downtrodden and unjustly abused. There is a need for service to these individuals all across the world, and change starts with you. It doesn’t matter what kind of background you have come from, there is an opportunity to serve those around you with love, being humane to those who have been dehumanized. As a believer in gospel principles and kingdom movement, there needs to be more investment in fighting injustice. It is a shame that poverty continues to be a problem.
Now, the challenge sets in here. As we aim to build cultural bridges between social classes and racial divides, one man’s stepping stone can be seen as another man’s separation. When one group of individuals decides to focus energy on one challenge, their focus comes off as divisive to another group that recognizes a completely different challenge as the main focus. This can be seen all over our cultural expanse in businesses, political strategy, local government, religious movement, and activism to name a few. If you aren't doing something to fix this issue, you aren’t doing anything helpful!
There are obviously a lot of teams to join and ideals to follow, but might I interrupt and remind everyone of the heart of the Godhead and what Jesus reminds us throughout the gospels.
“Looking at his disciples, Jesus said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” Luke 6:20-21. If we continue to approach individuals who are poverty-stricken, disenfranchised, downtrodden and unjustly abused as if they have nothing to teach us, as if they strictly have things to gain from us, we are forgetting the upside down nature of the kingdom. “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16. We aren’t called to challenge the promises that were given to us and to strictly seek “equality” (much like the workers do in Matthew 20) we are called to the work!
Growing up, my family was never wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. There were weeks when we would be lucky to have food every day. I have no shame in how I was raised or where I have come from. However, it is clear to me that there were kids that had it worse than me. For some, the poverty mindset takes over and they accept poverty as their lot in life. But that is not kingdom theology. Jesus doesn’t come to keep the poor in poverty or to create social systems. Jesus came to give us life and life abundantly. Now, I am not saying we are all going to live luxurious lifestyles. Some people are called to overwhelming wealth. Jesus has plenty to warn us about wealth from the rich young ruler to the parable of the talents. What I am saying is that our worth is not in what we can do or our social status. Our worth is founded in the fact that we are sons and daughters of the most high God. Our worth is in belonging to the richest kingdom ever, the kingdom of God. This is important. And what we do with this truth is important. Based on this scriptural interpretation, we are then set as equals, meaning that these individuals who are societally challenged are not to be pitied, but to be cherished. We are equals in the eyes of the Father.
What does that mean for us? What does this imply? Over the years, due to technological advancement and financial gains, people are turning away from people. My plea here is to serve those around you. Create lasting relationship with individuals. Look at people, all people, as humane. Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish, share your fish or give a man your fish! There are thousands of schools of thought on how to best serve. Sometimes, however, our hunger for understanding and education takes away from actively participating in change. Schools of thoughts are great. Having a deep theological connection to why you do what you do is important. However, if there is no practical engagement, the human body is nothing more than a vehicle for our mind. There is work to be done, we do have a part to play in societal transformation, and more than our minds need to be involved to see it done!
Give a man a fish, teach a man to fish, share your fish or give a man your fish! At the end of it all, this is a multi-level relational transformation. It takes time and engagement in things outside our norms. Somedays, it will be giving a man something practical to meet their need, whether food or a ride to a shelter to rest. Somedays, it will be teaching them how to properly engage in society. Somedays, you will sit down with individuals and hear their stories while sharing your own. And still, somedays you will just give everything you have to someone who needs it more. In order for us to be useful vessels, we need to be prepared at every level to serve those around us by whatever means possible. “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” - James 2:15-16.