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Poverty and the Poor
Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 • Posted December 7, 2011

The way our nation is going has caused me great concern and soul searching. More and more people are dropping into poverty in America, and the callousness that many people show toward this fact appalls me. I wonder what life would be like if we really lived out what Jesus preached and what his early followers were inspired to demonstrate with their lives. Acts 4:32-34 states "All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God's great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need." I wonder what the early Christians would think of the Social Darwinism (which offers a "moral" justification for wild inequities and social cruelties) that appears to be sweeping the nation. I also wonder what they would think of the worship of wealth and celebrities that is so prevalent today. Talk about a golden calf.The next time you hear a politician criticizing the poor and the jobless refer to 1 John 3:17-18: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." The message of God is loud and clear. Help the needy and the poor. It's not hard to understand, just hard to follow. But Jesus never meant for the Way to be easy. He said love one another. He went further and stated that loving your friend is easy and proves nothing. It's when you love your enemy that you really follow his teachings. He also didn't put any caveats on love one another. He didn't say just love your fellow believers -- he said love everybody. The message is continuous. It's in the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Epistles. Another thing to note of these commands is there are no caveats. None of them add "when you feel like it" or "only if they're not Muslims".Jesus took the issue of poverty personally. A nation that ignores its poor or places stumbling blocks in their way, whose supreme good is money, is so far from the spirit of Jesus. A politician that makes it harder for the poor to vote -- is that politician acting as a Christian? Adding to the misery of the poor is immoral -- exploiting workers, oppressing immigrants and robbing the needy are all opposed to the teachings of the Bible. Sodom was destroyed because it "had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease" and "did not help the poor and needy." Pleading the cause of the poor, being their advocate and defender is simply what a reighteous person does according to the Bible. Are you someone who, when others are silent, advocates for the poor in your community, you church, and your political party?Matthew 25:41-45 quotes Jesus as saying "Whatever you did no do for one fothe least among you, you did not do for me." He even stands up for prisoners in these verses. Texas is now cutting back on the food it feeds its prisoners. Is this being Christian?Isaiah 10:1-3 states "Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of their rights." Is it Christian to enact laws that put the burden of deficit reduction heavier on the poor than the rich so politicians can enlarge their campaign coffers? Is it Christian to have a judicial system that is skewed towards the rich? We just recently witnessed a man in prison for 25 years for a murder he didn't commit. He was finally exonerated only because an NGO (Project Innocence) paid for the DNA testing that proved his innocence. Proverbs 31:8-9 "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."With the much publicized "War on Christmas", those who know the teachings of Christ and choose to ignore them are the ones who take Christ out of Christmas.Julie Alford

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