A prayer for today captured me in light of the horrifying news the past few days of how we are treating children in this political war over immigration. Here is part of that prayer:
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
The American Church struggles with the quest for power. We end up defending the unjust and crushing the poor. We have a new level of hatred for the immigrant, minorities, and the poor. We are LOST.
The HOPE of the Church is to return to the margins. The HOPE of the Church is to turn away from the powerFUL and back to the powerLESS. Who else will uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed better? Who else can truly have Kingdom BEST for the those on the margins? We MUST turn away from our power-hungry quest!
2 “How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
The New International Version. (2011). (Ps 82:2–4). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Paul writing in Galatians brings verification of his preaching by retelling the story of his visit to the apostles. The big issue, of course, was the gospel coming to the Gentiles, but the one piece of common theological ground they had to have from Paul was this:
They asked only that we would remember the poor, which was certainly something I was willing to do. (Gal. 2:10)
While there was a lot of theological mystery and potential disagreement, one of the main things the apostles needed to hear from Paul was that he was still going to teach Gentiles to care for the poor.
Remember the margins. Remember the edges kicked to the curb and not having the resources to possibly “make it” in life.
The city where I pastor has a tremendous clergy group. We meet monthly and our churches together hold a Good Friday service annually. It’s a great group.
The real turn for us came several years ago. Every month we would meet and one particular pastor wanted to discuss our “distinctives.” He loved to talk about what was different in each of our denominations. It was okay to do, but after awhile it was irritating some pastors enough they didn’t bother coming as regularly as they used to.
We finally went through a process of asking, “What can we do together in the name of Jesus?”
When we had the discussions on what we could do together, interest picked back up. We have WIDE theological differences in our group. Yet, this is a group that truly loves each other because we want to see what Jesus is doing in the community and go to it.
Consequently, what “revs our engine” the most is putting things together that reach out to the margins of our city: the poor, the elderly, the at risk youth.
Remember the margins.
It’s probably because you find Jesus there quite often.
I am continuing a series on Acts and the Holy Spirit this Sunday. As I reflect on Acts 4:32 to Acts 6:8 as a unit, I think to how we have made Christianity such a dichotomy in the western Church.
For Pentecostals, I’ve grown up with everything about Christianity being about “soul winning.” It’s about saving souls.
When other “liberal” churches did things, it was the “social gospel.” We don’t do the “social gospel.”
For “liberal” churches it wasn’t about saving souls at all. It was about meeting a need.
The dichotomy is serious. We have some organizations only caring for physical needs and other organizations caring only for spiritual needs. They may feed people to get a captive audience to preach a salvation message, but that’s the extent.
This is not true Spirit-filled ministry, as I look at Acts.
It is not just about the soul, but the WHOLE.
And it’s not just about the wholeness of an individual, but the wholeness of a community. It’s an interesting reflection to this point, at least.