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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Live To Impact: The Poor

We're doing a series at my church called Live To Impact, challenging people to answer the question: "WHAT ARE YOU LIVING FOR?"

Today's focus was "living to impact the poor and underprivileged." How can we as Christians and a church make a difference in our community by taking care of the poor? And maybe even more foundational, WHY should we care for the poor?

Clayton Bell delivered a great message on the subject. You can listen to it in its entirety here, but I wanted to highlight a few points.

1. Who Is Responsible? Regardless of your political bent, if you think the government should be doing more or less in regard to poverty, the Bible makes it clear that God's people have a responsibility to care for the poor. That means it's MY responsibility. If you call yourself a follower of Christ, it's YOUR responsibility. You don't need to be voted into office. You don't need to be an occupational minister. Just do it.

2. Our Motivation. The Bible leaves no room for error: taking care of the poor, the orphan, the widow is paramount to God. This is often challenging to our human nature and preconceived mindsets. It's much more natural to give or care for those who can offer you something in return. Or perhaps you have (as I have) erred on the side of judgment toward those less fortunate in life. "They're lazy"... "they're irresponsible"... "if they'd just work harder and suck it up they'd could make something of themselves". Here's the deal: We must find our motivation for caring for the poor in who Jesus is and what He did for us. Spiritually speaking, I was homeless, I was lazy, I was poor, I was smelly, I had nothing and could do nothing for myself; but Jesus did for me what I couldn't earn and what I didn't deserve. He became poor that I might become rich. His mercy triumphed over judgment and it rescued me. What He's done for me in the spiritual, I am now called to replicate in the physical for the poor and underprivileged. As I clothe and feed and care for the least of these, I also have the privilege of sharing why I do such things and that reason is Jesus. What He's done for me He can also do for them.

3. The Cold Hard Facts. Did you know that in America in the late 1800's more than 90% of all welfare was done by the Church and "volunteer socieites?" The government had a small, if any, hand in such matters. As we've written previously, giving Christians could well eliminate the U.N.'s estimated $70 billion world-wide poverty problem with money to spare. Take for instance my city of Tallahassee, FL. There are, on average, about 900 homeless people at any given time. There are about 350 churches here. If each church provided for 2 or 3 of these people, the homeless problem would evaporate. (I know that poverty issues can be more complicated and you can't always make someone stay out of such circumstances, but this is just to illustrate how well-suited the Church is to answering the ills of society).

So, what are YOU living for? Let's ask hard questions and challenge ourselves to this standard of giving and loving as Christ did. Before you ask your government to do something, ask yourself if you're doing anything. Be open to opportunities to serve the underprivileged in your community. If you live in Tallahassee, come join us as we serve the residents of the Hope Community.

3 comments:

Clayton Bell said...

Wow, that has to be the best summary of a sermon I've ever seen. People do listen!

Thanks so much for the love, former Wade sisters!

Brynn said...

Amen, Amen, Amen,
What a powerful message Clayton must have delivered. I can't wait to listen to it. I hope and pray your church gives this vision to your city and then in turn to the entire nation. Never despise the day of small beginnings!!! Go Every Nation Tallahassee-- step into your corporate destiny for such a time as this!!!

portorikan said...

Good stuff and great job Clayton.