To The Poor
In our primary scripture for the next few Go Ye's, Christ first proclaims that he is anointed by God. This was an example of Christ to us that we need to be anointed if we are to spread his message. We covered this in the first 3 lessons, and it is vitally important if we want to be successful going forward.
Christ's next statement is that he came "to preach the gospel to the poor"(Luke 4:18). While the term for poor here is the same as we find in the Beatitudes, it is not the same meaning as we discuss in The Way. While poor in the Beatitudes means to be desperate in our spiritual walk, poor in Luke 4:18 means destitute and it applies to every area of life. That means that when we lack in any area of our lives, whether spiritual or temporal, Christ is looking to get involved. If we want to be Christlike, we should look to involve ourselves as well.
Preaching the Gospel
This phrase literally means to witness to people about Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings. It's interesting that Christ tells us to address people with temporal needs by offering a spiritual solution. We often think that we need to meet the temporal needs first before we can offer spiritual solutions. Food banks and clothes closets are important and helpful. The early church used their temporal means to help those in need. However, meeting temporal needs only bandages open wounds; it doesn't stitch them. It takes a spiritual move of God in somebody's life if they are to truly find freedom and be able to move forward. Peter shows us this in Acts 3:2-7:
And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
In that scripture we see a man who has temporal needs. He is hungry, he is poor and he is unable to do anything about it because of his ailment. Peter was in a position that most of us find ourselves in: we are going into the market or another public place and somebody asks for change or assistance. We often times only have a debit/credit card to pay for food so we don't have anything to give them. Other times we suspect they may use the funds for perverse purposes. However, have we ever thought to do what Peter did? To take time out of our schedule to preach the good news to somebody. To get involved in their lives spiritually to empower them in a way that betters their life. We can do that if we refocus ourselves.
Poverty Isn't Always Visible
There are people who are destitute in every class. Just because they live in nice houses doesn't mean they don't face family, financial or other issues. People making six figure incomes face just as many problems as the homeless man on the street corner. It might be a financial, family, health or any other issue and it makes them feel destitute and desperate for an answer. The problem is, these people are not easily found. They wear nice clothes, drive nice vehicles and put on nice facades. Christ found rich people, though.
The rich young ruler and Zacchaeus were both well off, and Christ reached out to them. However, he didn't have to seek them. Much like those in poverty, these rich men sought Jesus. We can tell these people that despite their problems, God can still help them and bring them through if they will but trust in Him. When we get in tune with God and start operating in His ways, people will gravitate to us. They will seek that which they cannot see: the Holy Spirit within us. We just have to be sensitive to the situation.
In order to be sensitive to people's situations, we must be spiritually minded. It takes a spiritual mindset not only to feel a situation but also to appropriately address it. Peter had already locked eyes on the lame man before he addressed him. He was in a spiritual mindset that led him to the man instead of the man crying out to him. The man expected a temporal offering but what he got was a spiritual deliverance. Deliverance from his pain and from his trouble. Deliverance from having to scrape by on what little he could find and expect to receive from others. Deliverance from being stuck.
God wants to bring this deliverance to everyone. He wants to free people from the pain and troubles of their situation. He wants to get them away from just having to scrape by in life. He wants to pull them out of their situation permanently. He's just looking for somebody who will be his vessel. Will we be that vessel?
Attempt to find somebody who is in a tough temporal situation
Go to them and offer spiritual solutions first (prayer, scriptural advice, laying on of hands, etc)
It might not take with everyone, but when it does, watch as their world changes
If you have something that can help their temporal needs, consider offering it regardless of
how they receive your spiritual solutions
Note: Use discernment before approaching any stranger. Don't just rush in to a dangerous situation. Make sure that it is God leading you to them. If possible, have help when you do this. Peter had John.
The Salvation Army has been a consistent leader in helping those in need across a wide spectrum. They have many avenues that allow people to get involved, from the most basic to the highest level of detail. Even better, they are a Christ-led organization. It is an excellent pathway to get your foot in the door to helping the needy in your community both physically and spiritually. Check them out and find out how you can get involved in helping the poor in your area.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.