Justice for the Poor Bible study
From a video by Jim Wallis. Jim is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life.
Mary Glover was part of a neighbourhood food programme in the city of Washington D.C., where every Saturday morning, hundreds of people gathered - families who needed a bag of groceries. Mary was elderly and needed food too but she was one of the volunteers. Before the doors opened, Mary used to pray. People were waiting outside, about to come in and all the volunteers got the food ready and then they prayed, all holding hands.
Mary prayed like she'd been carrying on a conversation with the Lord for a long time. She said, "Thank you, Lord, for waking me up this morning, that the walls of my room were not the walls of my grave and my bed was not my cooling board. Thank you, Lord." Then she prayed these words as people from poor families waited outside to come in. "Lord, we know that you will be coming through this line today, so, Lord, help us to treat you well."
Jim Wallis who helped in the food programme as well found this to be the best commentary on Matthew 25 he had ever heard, ever seen, ever read. Mary knew that she was about to give food to Christ himself. That, for Jim, is what it means to love Jesus. "I was hungry. I was thirsty. I was naked. I was sick. I was a stranger. I was in prison. As you've done it to them, you've done it to me."
Jim reminds us of Jesus' manifesto in Luke 4; "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering the sight to the blind, to set free those who have been oppressed to proclaim the favourable year of the Lord."
Any gospel that is not good news to poor people is simply not the gospel of Jesus Christ. From the start, his mission was clear and the question you begin to ask ourselves is our mission, the same as his. Today, Christians ought to be known as the people who see the poor, who bring the poor into their lives, their community, their fellowship, who give the poor face and a voice, who want to be good news in the way we live our lives to those who are poor. If we, our lives, our families, our congregations, our churches are not good news to poor people, we're simply not those who are following after our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
How do we be the ones who are the first to make the poor a priority in everything that we do?
Jim takes us through a Bible study on this in the 18 minute video below. It is very thought-provoking and would be ideal to show in church or in small group setting. (It looks like the print resources are out-of-print but you may find some second-hand copies from suppliers).
One last thought from Jim. The best known scripture about the poor is from Mark, "The poor you will always have with you." We can take it to mean, 'of course, the poor you'll always have with you', meaning, there's nothing we can do about poverty. It's always going to be like this. However, Jesus meant, "You will always have the poor with you. You will always be with the poor." What he's saying is, "You're my disciples. Look who we spend time with. Look who we go to dinner with. Look who we're always around, it's the poor. You'll always be in proximity to poor people because that's who you are as my disciples, my followers."
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