Politicians talk about standing up for the poor. Activists defend the rights of the poor. At Gateway Rescue Mission, we simply help the poor because Jesus compels us to be light in a dark world. I’d really like to be a fly on the wall if some people who come to our mission walked into the office of the TV talking heads who ramble on about helping the poor and asked “do you have something here I could eat?” Same goes for a homeless person walking into a church on Sunday morning and parking on the front row near the respectable people.
Now, let’s flip the script. Poverty is not glamorous and possesses no inherent virtue. For sure, Jesus said “blessed are the poor.” That teaching is certainly applicable today. But it does not mean that poor people are better than those with means. It doesn’t make them more honest, or more trustworthy, or nicer.
A particular type of poverty robs an individual of hope. When someone has to scrap to get their next meal, or for whatever reason doesn’t have a roof over their head, it robs of self-esteem. The real poverty that I see at Gateway Rescue Mission is in the eyes of those who have given up.
In Jesus day, the poor had nothing…no state assistance, no social security…nothing. They subsisted at the mercy of a society that overlooked their existence. When Jesus said “blessed are the poor”, it was a special blessing declaring that the poor who placed faith in Christ would inherit the Kingdom of God.
I do believe the poor have a special place in God’s heart. If we serve the poor only to do our good deed for the day, we’ve missed the point. If we serve the poor to help them fulfill their own destiny flowing from being created in the image of a Holy God, we’ve nailed it.