One doesn’t have to spend a whole lot of time reading the Bible to figure out that the poor have a special place in God’s heart. It is relatively easy to make a case that if forced to choose, God chooses to side with the poor. Later this week my home church will host a “Christmas Store.” This year we will be providing gifts for 1,700 children representing over 400 families. Every one of the families is poor and their need is real.
This year I began my 18th year working for DOOR. Our primary hope is to show visitors the face of God in the city. When participants encounter the poor, God’s face consistently shines through in powerful life transforming ways.
However, there is a downside to 18 years of working and living in economically depressed communities – cynicism. When it comes to lies and deceit the poor are as capable as the rich. The wealthy do not own majority shares in greediness; to be perfectly honest, some of the greediest people I have ever encountered are poor.
After spending much of my adult life among the urban poor one thing is clear. God does not side with the poor because of their integrity. I think that God sides with the poor because they experience suffering and injustice at a base level. Poverty in and of itself isn’t holy, but the perspective that poverty creates helps the poor to better understand Jesus’ condemnations of wealth. It is the poor who suffer when social programs are cut or health care costs continue to skyrocket. The poor are not morally superior to the wealthy, but they are much more likely to be sinned against because of the attitudes and greed of the wealthy.
This Christmas as you look for ways to serve the poor, don’t miss the opportunity for the poor to serve and educate you.