Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blessed are those who care for the poor


Psalm 41:1  (A psalm by David for the music leader.) You, LORD God, bless everyone who cares for the poor, and you rescue those people in times of trouble.
There are so many Christians that object to social justice and call it socialism disguised; They say that it is merely a term for taking wealth from people and giving it to others. They claim that anyone who emphasizes social justice mis-quotes and mis-interprets the scripture. They insist that Jesus was not an advocate for social justice. Are they correct? In two words, absolutely not!

Social justice was not *just a theme* that Jesus promoted. The truth is that it is one of the over-riding themes of the Old Testament also. When God found fault with Israel for their corporate national sins, often times it was greed and the mis-treatment of the poor. Read Amos chapter five. Let’s look specifically at verse 11-12. (Amos 5:11-12)  “you abuse the poor and demand heavy taxes from them. You have built expensive homes, but you won't enjoy them; you have planted vineyards, but you will get no wine.  (12)  I am the LORD, and I know your terrible sins. You cheat honest people and take bribes; you rob the poor of justice.”  This could be an indictment of Wall Street and the global corporations today. They over tax the poor and pay little or no tax themselves.

When you search the word *poor* in the bible you find that there are over 170 verses that deal with the treatment of the poor by the wealthy. It is a VERY IMPORTANT concept with God. It was not just Amos. Isaiah also found fault with corporate, national Israel for the treatment of the poor. (Isaiah 3:14-15)  “He will even judge you rulers and leaders of his own nation. You destroyed his vineyard and filled your houses by robbing the poor.  (15)  The LORD All-Powerful says, "You have crushed my people and rubbed in the dirt the faces of the poor." The idea that Christians should not want nations to care for the poor is unbelievable, and it would be repugnant if it were not done from ignorance.

While the church judges drug addicts, drunks and sexually addicted individuals… they support people that rob the poor to increase their own wealth and ignore social justice. If the church would spend even half of the time on social justice that it does on condemning people the lot of the poor would be increased immeasurably. Now there are those in the church who care for the poor, but they are the minority; especially in Euro/American-protestant denominations. I find it amazing that those who take such a literal stance on the bible ignore the social justice themes of scripture. This is especially true in view of Matthew 25:31-46. It is a warning of judgment and the sole criteria for judgment is social justice.

I have often said, that if church folk would just rest in redemption by the grace of God, and then begin working hard at social justice issues, they would find that they are too tired to sin so much ;-).

5 comments:

  1. Joe, these articles continue to intrigue me with meaning that you couldn't possibly know. I have indeed seen a large number of Christians (including myself) who are far more concerned about personal holiness rather than the heart of Jesus' message about holiness-- caring for others.

    My understanding is that Jesus says "I took care of all your sins; it's not going to be a problem on Judgement day. Now go and help, feed, care, love those around you."

    I find your point scattered throughout the entire Bible, for example:

    1) The main sin of Sodom was to ignore the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:49-51)

    2) The way to be perfect, according to Jesus, is to sell your possessions and give to the poor (Matthew 19:20-22)

    3) The only religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is to help the needy without being polluted by the world (James 1:27)

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    1. Your comment is spot on and it blesses me to read it. Yes, you are exactly right, we have been set free to love.

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  2. All the verses you quoted refer to the spirit rather than the flesh. Jesus said the words he spoke were spirit. Natural man sees the things of God through natural eyes and so forms Churchianity. The actual poor are those who are poor in spirit. These are the ones Jesus came to heal, not the poor in the flesh. Jesus came to open blind eyes, that is, man's eyes that are blind to God. Jesus came to heal the broken hearted, etc., etc. Obviously it is natural for man who is of the flesh to think only of himself because he doesn't have the love of God controlling him. The real sheep to be fed are those who are of God. "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me but the voice of strangers they will not follow." "My sheep" are the ones who eat spiritual food, that is the words of God. "Give us this day our daily bread."....refers to the words of God, not natural food. God's kingdom is " NOT OF THIS WORLD!"

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    1. Really? Because it seems to me that Jesus did an awful lot of "non-spiritual" healing while he was here. Were those just parlor tricks to bait in the non-believers? I don't think so. It saddens me to hear people who think that the only thing that matters is to show others the error of their ways. I seem to remember Jesus turning a few fish into enough to feed thousands of hungry, poor people. Maybe it's just me but I think this analysis is spot on. I mean Jesus himself said if we give shelter to someone on the street, a jacket to someone cold, food to a hungry person, we are giving that to him. I sure hope the next hungry poor person you meet and tell to get a job and repent isn't Jesus. Just sayin....

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  3. Sorry Rusticcharlie but you really should study the Bible without a bias of this sort. Your view actually gets very close to the ancient heresy of gnosticism if you are not extremely careful. BrianK's response is right on in contrast.

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