"We don't care about poor people.
If we cared about poor people, don't you think we'd do something about it?"
His words were like a knife through my back. I hadn't been back in the States for long, and most of my adult life to that point had been spent committed to working with the poor in one way or another.
He spoke for the whole group. Each of them called themselves Christian (each one involved in church leadership even) and at that point I called them friends. Most of them had known me as a child, when my family lived off of food pantries and hand-me-downs.
As his words settled heavy in my heart I waited for someone to speak up not only in my defense, but for the defenseless. The silence and blank stares overwhelmed me more than the words. The shock and anger leaving me speechless, I could do nothing but walk away.
Although it happened years ago, I am still hurt by these people, and hurt by the church. Because really, when I look at the church I am sure there are few bold enough to make the statement my "friend" did that day. But in reality, for many of us, that statement is true.
We hear about the millions of orphans who lie in wait in orphanages and on the streets around the world. We hear of children being sold into slavery of the worst kinds and the epidemic of human trafficking presently taking place. We know that nearly a billion people go to bed hungry each night and that over one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water. We hear of Christians around the world who are imprisoned, tortured, and martyred for their faith.
Yet here we sit, on our comfy pews in our extravagant churches, parking lots filled with luxury vehicles, blood diamonds dangling from our ears and sparkling off our fingers, more in awe of our gods than our GOD. We are like peacocks on a Sunday morning, more concerned about showing off our tail feathers than the child slaves who made them, more concerned about where we will dine after the church service than the 800 children that died during the service because of a lack of basic needs, such as food and water.
Don't you agree that if we really cared, we would do something about it?
Throughout this series I have been sharing ways that we can tangibly love our neighbors. In this post, although we are coming to a close, I want to rewind and get to the heart of the matter. Today I want to offer ways for us to learn how to love our neighbors: To have passionate affection and personal attachment to our neighors around the world. And if you are already there, let's learn to love them deeper.
Because once we learn to love our neighbors, we will have no choice but to care.
Here I offer a few simple yet profound ways to get started:
Fast and pray- Pray for God to break your heart for the things that break His. Pray that your eyes would be open to the lost, hurting, and hungry around the world. Pray for an overwhelming love for His people.
Get to know them- Watch or read the news. Know the issues going on in our world. Learn about people groups and other cultures. Get to know the roots of poverty so you can better understand the cause and effect. Be well informed so you can make responsible choices in how to act.
Read the Word- Since we calls ourselves "Christ-like," let's study how Christ instructs us to treat the poor, widows, fatherless, and defenseless. Let's follow His lead. The Bible is full of scripture from beginning to end about God's heart for the poor, but here are a few great places to start:
" This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 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 tongue but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:16-18
(For any of you looking for places to give or get involved, there a list on the right hand side of my home page titled "These People Inspire Me." You will find some great organizations listed here. Also, stay tuned this week as we will be sharing some tangible ways of taking God's love to the ends of the earth.)