Social distinctives again. I’ve been continuing to muse upon this theme for some time. It really all began when I read That Printer of Udell’s way back. Some of you may remember the review that I posted of it back on 9-21-06. The character of Dick Faulkner really struck me in the book as someone in each of our lives that we know, but the church would shun if they walked through the doors. There are social barriers in our churches whether we admit it or not. Yet this is the very place where God intended that we treat one another as equals.
Hopefully the title of this post caught your attention. I am developing a new type of philosophy when it comes to helping the poor, which has been brought to the center stage by many almost as a test for fellowship. I have come to the conclusion that Christ did not feed the poor and He did not intend for us to feed the poor. Instead, Christ became poor and He intends for us to become poor. What’s the difference?
The Apostle Paul gives us this principle in II Corinthians 8:9 when encouraging the believers at Corinth to give toward the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem. At the center of Christ’s mission is the fact that He gave up the riches of heaven to become a poor man that we might inherit the universe with Him. Paul encourages the believers to give based on the fact that Christ became poor. He is actually advising them to possess a little less that the believers at Jerusalem might possess a little more. For further insight into my thoughts on this, read my post on this subject here.
When Paul wrote in Philippians 2 of Christ’s humility displayed as He left the riches of heaven, he worded it something like this. "Have this attitude among yourselves, which is the attitude of your new identity in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be held on to, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.
" ~ Orange Mailman slant. Christ’s ministry amongst us was due to the fact that He did not hold on to His status which He rightly deserved. He let go of His position and became meek and lowly in order to minister to us.
If we are to be like Christ, our ministry must mirror His ministry. In His ministry, He let go of every right He had to His status. We must do the same. We must let go of what we perceive our social status to be if we are to minister to those whom we believe to be less fortunate than ourselves. Only when we let go of our standing in society can we become poor and then effectively minister to the poor. Do you believe you have the right to live in a certain type of neighborhood? Drive a certain class of car? Have a certain decor in your home? You must first let go of what you perceive your rights to be, before you can help anyone else in need. If you try to help those in need while maintaining your rights, you will be disobedient to Christ’s command to have the mind of Christ which is plainly laid out in Philippians 2.
But if we become poor, then we are called alongside folks to help them through their shortfalls, hunger, and even homelessness. Once we become poor, it sets us free from society’s labels. We can now help a brother or sister who is an equal through a crisis. We can develop a relationship with them in order to understand them. If we have the attitude that we are above the one that we are trying to help, the results can be disastrous. We can be lifted up with pride, the one we are trying to help can become offended, and we could be simply throwing money at the situation without giving them the advice they need. This could be character advice in advising them on habits they need to work on, financial advice on how to spend their money wisely, or relationship advice in relating to others which could be the invaluable link in transitioning them to financial independence. This will not be accomplished if we perceive ourselves as being above the person that we desire to help.
Have you become poor? Have you let go of the attitude that you deserve to live where you live? Would you possess less so that another brother or sister might possess more? Think about a family that has a whole lot less than your family does. Think about a family in a neighborhood that you read about in the newspaper as being a high crime area. Think about a family that struggles to keep one car running. Would you trade houses with that family for one year? Would you live where they live and let them live where you live?
I admit it, I’m still learning this lesson myself. By God’s grace, I hope to have it learned by the time I die.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman