Random Thoughts on Good News for the Poor
The Bible tells us in several places that the Gospel is good news to the poor. I wonder, though, how much of what we say and do is really good news.
Some Christians ignore this aspect entirely. They may do some things to help the poor maintain their condition, or alleviate some of the symptoms. Giving out free food and clothing is one example of this. Don't get me wrong there -- these can be useful ministries. Amber and I have helped with a local meals-on-wheels program for a while, and I love doing it. But if that is all we are doing, it falls far short of what we are called to.
I say this because simply helping people get by does not, in my mind, qualify as "good news." Yes, it is needed. As I've been thinking lately how best to help the homeless and poor in my area, I know that long-term what is needed is transitional housing and treatment programs. The reality, though, is that if I wait until I can do that people will suffer in the short-term. You have to meet those short-term needs, or people may not last until the long term solutions are ready. So, again, don't misunderstand this.
My point here is not that short-term projects are bad. They are not. My point is that, if that's all we're doing, then we are missing the point.
Jesus came to redeem and restore, not merely patch things up. If we are the proclaim good news, we must proclaim that the last are to be first. We have to actually work to change things.
This is one of the many reasons I like Mission of Hope Haiti. They take care of immediate needs, but they also have very long-term plans, such as education, building 500 homes for Haitians to own, and starting businesses.
What does this look like in my community? I'm not completely sure. I do know it doesn't involve simple band aids, or paternalistic attitudes. It will mean getting involved in people's lives, and that means it will be difficult and messy at times.
Getting involved in the difficult and messy, though, pretty much sums up Christ's approach.