"If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no compassion for them, how can the love of God be in you? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." - TNIV (adapt.)
"If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love." - Eugene Peterson's The Message
Powerful words. So many wonderful Christian people worship obediently, live morally, pray earnestly, give generously, care deeply, and perhaps even read and study the Bible faithfully...yet, if we are not actively engaged in helping the poor, are we still Christian? Or are we just nice people, religious people, to whom the Lord might say, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God..." (Mark 12:34, TNIV) or remind us that, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21, TNIV)
With loving respect, I grow tired of hearing colleagues talk about wonderful prayer services or great Bible studies or Spirit-inspired worship...all great things...and rarely if ever talk about the ways in which they and their congregants are serving "the least of these". What's happened to us? How "in bed" with the world are we? How comfortable have we become?
It seems to me that the poor, the least, the lowest of society ought to be our primary mission field. Yet most of us (myself included) clamor for the suburban appointments of our dreams, where there are comparatively few poor, and where everyone seems remarkably like us. Shame on us..shame on me.
Merciful Father, who upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry, who sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, watches over the foreigner and sustains the orphan and the widow, forgive me my arrogance and my lack of obedience in reaching out to "the least of these" in society. By the power of your Holy Spirit, inspire and enable me to faithfully reach them and lead your people in this same outreach, that your name might be glorified by our work and pleased with our offering, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.