Christianity and the presenting problem of poverty in America today

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NOTE TO READERS: This article originally was published on August 8, 2017. This essay reflects a sampling of literature on Christian ethical principles regarding alleviation of poverty in America. Throughout the article, there are links to the articles referenced for the reader to review. In addition, the contributor has provided links to books that are recommended and are available for purchase through Amazon.com. By purchasing the recommended books, you are supporting this website for timely, thought-provoking essays. The views expressed in this Essay are the express viewpoints of the contributing writer. 

…the Church can only have a legitimate and significant role to play when focused in a local and particular context and when guided by a sound theological rationale, which is quite explicit in the Bible (Ayiemba, Theuri, Mungai, 2015)


Christian Ethics on Poverty
“They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was eager to do” (Galatians 2: 10). I begin with Paul’s report of what he was asked to do by the church in Jerusalem as a reminder that to be asked to remember the poor is an ongoing Christian obligation.

Stanley Hauerwas published an Op-Ed article on February 10, 2014 at the ABC Religion and Ethics column. His article, The End of Charity: How Christians are [not] to ‘remember the poor’, is a critique and response to what Hauerwas calls severe criticism for the treatment of those in poverty. He writes:

We are supposed to care for those less well off. Almsgiving is constitutive of what it means to be a Christian. Yet how Christians have cared for those who have less has recently come under severe criticism.

The essential problem, Hauerwas and others have commented on, regarding poverty is based on a two-fold question: How are the poor identified? And, what leads individuals to experience poverty? According to Hauerwas, failing to address these two pertinent questions appear to lead toward failure in addressing and alleviating poverty. Therefore, this essay explores a sampling of literature regarding Christianity, the Bible, and Ethics in relation to poverty and the Christian duty in addressing and assisting in resolving those who are impoverished.

First, we will explore an understanding of the presenting problem in America today. This is based on a recent research and study that was published by the Washington Post. Based on a poll conducted between April 13 and May 1, the statistics appear to report that majority of the Christians remark how poverty is due to a lack of effort on the individual’s part. In contrast, the same poll appeared to reveal those with no religious affiliation appear to report those suffering poverty because of difficult circumstances.

Second, we will explore a review of sampling literature on the subject of Christian Ethics and alleviation of poverty. This will be the most significant aspect in addressing the Christian Duty (both, individually, and corporately) toward addressing the issues individuals face because of poverty.

Next, the essay will present information from sound theological and Biblical perspectives as it relates to the teachings surrounding the poor (which the sampling literature reflects) and solidifying the Biblical nature of one’s Christian duty toward those who are impoverished.

Finally, a conclusion will provide a call to action for each individual Christian, Pastor, and local Christian Churches to take necessary steps and actions in implementing policies and procedures that may lead to greater influence and impact within the local community. This goes beyond operating a food and clothing bank, referral sources to secular non-profit agencies (e.g., Shelters, Social Services), and other such resources. The call to action is based on sound Biblical teaching and admonishment.

Understanding the presenting problem in America today

The Washington Post published an article entitled: Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on a lack of effort. Working with the Kaiser Family Foundation, a poll asked 1,686 Americans to answer whether a person’s state of poverty was due to lack of effort or circumstances beyond one’s control.

 

One of the interesting components of the Post’s article is the summation of how this is not merely an ethical issue, it is also wrapped up within a political issue as well. A review of the graph presented by the Post appears to show that “…Among Democrats, 26 percent blamed lack of effort and 72 percent blamed circumstances.” This is compared to “…Republicans, 63 percent blamed lack of effort and 32 percent blamed circumstances.” It further breaks down to denominational perceptions, gender, race, and other considerations. Overall, the article appears to focus on the majority of the Christians who blame an individual’s lack of effort are those Christians who identify as White and Evangelical.

Statistics aside, one of the most interesting anecdotal stories circulating around social media reflects a newly appointed pastor. It shares how this pastor showed up on his first Sunday to deliver a sermon. However, he sat outside the church for sometime, dressed as a homeless person. As the story progresses, it shares how no one paid him attention, ignored him, or looked upon him with certain disgust. As the service came to a start, he walked in and sat at the front, was then escorted by the ushers to sit in the back of the sanctuary. The service started with praise and worship. When it came time, one of the deacons approached and introduced the pastor. Everyone appeared to look around and noticed the same man get up from the back of the church, and coming to the pulpit. He revealed to them who he was and shared with them his disappointment in how he was treated. He ended the service with people hanging their heads in shame and disbelief.


and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” James 2:3 ESV


According to blogger, Sheila Kennedy, she appears to perceive the Washington Post article as a reflection of “…the continuing cultural influence of Calvinism, which taught that God had decided who would be saved or damned before the beginning of history, and that this decision would not be affected by how human beings behaved during their lives.” While the Post does separate the understanding between Premillinialists and Postmillinialists, I personally see no reflection of any Calvinistic tradition (this is due in part of my study of Calvinism and the rise of the Protestant Reformation over the years). However, Kennedy does make quite an astute observation in her post:

Over time, as the presumed connection between wealth and elect status fostered by Calvinism became part of American Culture, it influenced today’s common belief that poverty indicates moral deficit and wealth is a marker of merit. Those attitudes, together, with America’s emphasis on individualism and personal responsibility, continue to overshadow recognition of the important role played by policies and systematic influences.

She concludes how this particular survey

...results illuminate the dilemma for public policy: if people are poor because of minimum wage levels facilitate exploitation, or because automation is eliminating jobs, or because of inadequacies in America’s social safety net, the policies to be pursued will look very different from policies based upon a belief that poverty is a result of personal moral failure.

Kennedy also mentions how Christian economic realism is far better than the well-to-do Christian Charity. I am leaning to agree with the perspective Kennedy offers in relation to Charity vs. Christian Economic Realism.

America, Capitalism, Adam Smith, and the Bible

As part of our understanding of the presenting social problem of poverty in America, and reflection of Christian ethical principles in alleviating poverty within the local communities, we are to also understand the nature of capitalism in American culture. This is more true today since we are ascribed to being in a Post-Modern society. William Bole discusses this in his article Relative Poverty: Where Adam Smith and the Bible Agreeas published in the Christian Century on December 14, 2011. According to Bale, his premise focused on which viewpoint of economic inequality held greater merit. He reflects how the father of Capitalism (Adam Smith) and the Biblical writers opposed “…gross income inequality“.

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Bole makes two references. The first reference regards Pope Benedict XVI and a publication by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace that appears to highlight “…urgent need of a true world political authority” to address these disparities within and between nations. The second reference deals with a publication by the Heritage Foundation where senior scholars, Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “…declared that the poor today live better than the rich did a century ago and enjoy conveniences that the middle class couldn’t afford in the recent past.”  

The observation Bole appears to present is that the “We got stuff school of thought” (as represented by Rector and Sheffield, fail to take into account that American’s do not live in a past-gone-by era of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. Neither do American’s live in lands that are impoverished and lack the modern technology and conveniences we do enjoy today. According to Bole, “Americans inhabit a particular space and time. They live in communities and need access to the resources that will help them participate fully within those communities.” These resources are basic: decent-gainful employment that has a decent salary, affordable health insurance and retirement security, and ability to utilize cell phones, computers, reliable vehicles and/or transportation.

The most poignant observation Bole makes is how the Jewish Prophets, and Jesus himself, were not concerned about previous generations of people lacking modern conveniences of their time. His observation reflects how the Old Testament prophets, and Jesus himself “…spoke precisely against the marginalization of economically disadvantaged people within their social contexts.”

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Furthermore, the continued observation Bole presents is that which is reflected in Ronald J. Sider’s work: Just Generosity: A New Vision for Overcoming Poverty in America

William Bole writes: Ronald J. Sider offers a compelling analysis of this biblical tradition. This work is available on Amazon. By clicking the link above, you are able to review and purchase this work.

Just Generosity calls Christians to examine their priorities and their pocketbooks in the face of a scandalous tendency to overlook those among us who suffer while we live in practical opulence. This holistic approach to helping the poor goes far beyond donating clothes or money, envisioning a world in which faith based groups work with businesses, the media, and the government to help end poverty in the world’s richest nation. This updated edition includes current statistics, policy recommendations, and discussions covering everything from welfare reform, changes to Medicaid, and the Social Security debate.”Sider’s most important book since Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.”Jim Wallis, author, God’s Politics “Sider knows how to lift up people in need. . . . [An] important and challenging book.”John Ashcroft, former Attorney General of the United States

The focal point of this work, Bole refers to, is on how Leviticus 25:35-36 provides insight in how the poor are seen as “being on the verge of ‘falling out of the community‘.”

Going back to Adam Smith, William Bole also mentions how the father of Capitalism explains in Wealth of Nations certain principle doctrines of “necessities”:

Smith explains…that human needs include not just the rudimentary supports of life but “whatever the customs of the country render it indecent for creditable people, even the lowest order, to be without.” What is it that is “necessities”? Citing Smith’s examples, Bole shares how a creditable day-laborer might be ashamed to appear in public without a “linen shirt”, and the want of which may be seen as a disgraceful degree of poverty.


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The Wealth of Nations was published 9 March 1776, during the Scottish Enlightenment and the Scottish Agricultural Revolution. It influenced a number of authors and economists, as well as governments and organization s. For example, Alexander Hamilton was influenced in part by The Wealth of Nations to write his Report on Manufactures, in which he argued against many of Smith’s policies. Interestingly, Hamilton based much of this report on the ideas of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, and it was, in part, Colbert’s ideas that Smith responded to with The Wealth of Nations. Many other authors were influenced by the book and used it as a starting point in their own work, including Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus and, later, Ludwig von Mises. The Russian national poet Aleksandr Pushkin refers to The Wealth of Nations in his 1833 verse-novel Eugene Onegin.


Who are America’s Poor? 

A review of the available literature shows a predominate question: Who are the Poor in America? The subsequent question is, how is this a difficult question to answer? And, depending on ones perspective, determines how one may answer the first question. In an article, Below the line: Poverty in Americapublished at the Christian Science Monitor: contributing writer, Jina Moore interviews, and shares, Linda Criswell’s story of stealing fruit from the day care she is employed at. Moore posits the question: Is Linda Criswell poor? Moore then makes this observation:

This turns out to be a very difficult question to answer. How you answer may depend as much on who you are – liberal or conservative, city-dweller or rural homesteader, low-wage laborer or salaried middle-class – as on any single set of criteria. Even the government isn’t sure how to think about the question: in some states, making $1,000 a month might qualify you for food stamps but could be too much income to qualify for medicaid.

According to report by the US Census Bureau, released in 2012, the official figures of American’s experiencing poverty is about 46.2 million; or, about 15% of the US Population. Moore reflects how poverty threshold increases since the government started tracking poverty records, beginning in 1969. Furthermore, Moore reflects how the increase in America’s poverty may be attributed to the ripple effects from the Great Recession. Quoting Professor Mark Rank of Washington University in St. Louis, the reason for increase in poverty is not due to individuals working less, or are not working harder, it is because there appears to be a lack in decent paying jobs.

Moore also provides insight from former Clinton administration official, Peter Edelman, where people are working, however, they are not climbing out of poverty. According to Edelman, many of these individuals are low-wage laborers. Along with this, she cites the National Employment Law Project where it appears low-paying employment opportunities were added to the economy between 2008 and 2010. And, she further comments how the projection of employment growth to 2020 will be six low-wage employment opportunities out of every ten. Even more distressing is the view that since 1979, Moore reflects how the American economy has significantly lost approximately 1/3 of it’s capacity to generate good jobs. This, she writes, is according to a paper published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

What, then, is the presenting problem in America today?

While I am in agreement, it is perception based on how one defines poverty among the American populace, and within specific defined local communities, there are some tell-tale signs of what is being construed as poverty. In a news report by King 5 News (and other News sources) on April 26, 2017, a family of four that brings in 72,000 per year is considered “low-income”.

The Seattle Times published an article on May 1, 2017 reflecting how poverty is considered a suburban challenge now.  And, one of the biggest issues facing this region is the substantial increase in housing within King County and the City of Seattle. This comes on the heels of the increase of Washington State voter approved minimum wage of 11.00 per hour. In the City of Seattle, minimum wage is increased to 15.00 per hour. It is interesting that the Seattle Times, the Stranger, and other local news sources are publishing articles relating to the local area and the increase in poverty among those residents (see my article Seattle is Number 1 Ranked Nation Wide in Rental Increase).

Here are some factors to consider:

This is just the rise in housing cost and the burden it is becoming for many Americans today.

Along with the rise in housing cost, the lack in affordable housing, there is also the increase in the lacking of gainful employment. Even in the City of Seattle, a person working full time (approximately 30 hours per week) at 15.00 per hour may not be able to afford the “necessities” earlier referenced. Additionally, factor in the cost of health care (including the Affordable Care Act), health premiums and insurance rates have dramatically increased.

According to the National Conference of State Legislation, it is reported the following on July 1, 2017:

The increased cost of health insurance is a central fact in any discussion of health policy and health delivery.  Annual premiums reached $18,142 in 2016 for an average family,  up 3 percent from 2015, with workers on average paying $5,277 towards the cost of their coverage.* For those Americans who are fully-covered, these cost realities affect employers, both large and small, plus the “pocket-book impact” on ordinary families. Yet for those buying insurance on an exchange or private market plan for 2017, the average increase before subsidies was a shocking 25 percent. For 2016 among the roughly 85 percent of HealthCare.gov consumers with premium tax credits, the average monthly net premium increased just $4, or 4 percent, from 2015 to 2016, according to an HHS report.

This may appear to include those who do not receive significant health benefits through their employer, or, a family pays out of pocket in a shared-premium with their employer. Since the Obama Administration Era, and now under a Trump Administration Government, Health Care is an ongoing, and quite volatile, topic of conversation. The failed repeal of Obama Care (Affordable Care Act) and the Republican parties replacement health care is significant awareness that neither party is in agreement with appropriate health care regulation.

With the rise in housing, the rise in health care and the volatile political divide on health care being a right vs. a privilege, we also look at the nature of employment. Referring back to Jina Moore, the increase in employment opportunities between gainful employment and low-wage employment is a ratio of 6 low paying jobs out of every 10 employment opportunities.

So, what is the presenting problem in America today when it comes to the question of who is poor? It is my opinion that based on the review of the literature collected, that the answer are those who are lacking the ability to obtain the “necessities” of life in present post-modern American society: Namely, adequate, affordable housing, stable and gainful employment, appropriate and affordable health care and insurance, and the ability to save for retirement.

We will explore the Christian Ethical dilemma and obligation in how to not only respond, work toward alleviating poverty within local communities. This will focus on sound theological principles as laid out in the Biblical text, and what the sampling of literature reports in relation to the Christian duty and obligation to “remember the Poor.”

The Christian Ethical dilemma and obligation in how to alleviate American Poverty

 The summation of this essay provides insight in two things:

  1. Poverty is defined by an individual (or family) lacking present social context of “necessities” to function and participate within their relevant community
  2. Poverty is neither an attribution of “lack of effort” or “defining circumstances”.

Understanding who are considered in poverty, and what led them to experience poverty in America today is an ongoing and complex issue of our society. What this next essay will focus on is the Christian ethical dilemma and obligation in how to alleviate American poverty. Again, this information is based on relevant literature regarding Christianity and poverty. This essay is an attempt to provide, not only an answer, but, a call to action in developing proactive ways to address poverty within the local communities.

We begin by addressing the specific role the “body of Christ” has in poverty alleviation. This begins by addressing the primary mission of the Christian Church. Next, we will explore how the Christian Church has a “divine mandate” toward poverty alleviation. To understand the divine mandate requires a discussion on how present American Churches today view poverty.

As we wrestle with the complexity of poverty and how to alleviate it from a Christian and Biblical worldview, we will conclude where the present Church fails in relation to fulfilling the great commission of Christ and working toward alleviating  poverty in America today. What we want to do is answer this question: Is American Christianity working toward poverty alleviation; or, has the American Christian Church today faltered and come under condemnation for not “remembering the poor?”

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By understanding the primary mission of the Christian Church and the social mission of the Christian Church, we may develop a sound theological framework in which to fulfill the obligation and duty of all those who confess Christ as Lord and Savior.

This requires an honest and forthright investigation in where the Church excels, and, sadly, where the Church has abandoned such ethical duties. By taking a more pragmatic and objective approach to this, many may be surprised to see how the American Christian Church remains in sin on poverty.

What is the prime mission of the Christian Church?

The answer is summed up in the Great Commission as recorded in the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” See, Matthew 28:18-20, ESV

In an article by published in the International Research Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, the authors mentioned the following premise of what defines the mission of the Christian Church:

It is the mission of the Church to provide the kind of place where spiritual life can flourish. This is the primary mission of the Church to: preach the gospel; teach the saved; provide a spiritual atmosphere; reproduce the character of Christ; and bring joy to mankind. This is the paramount objective of the Church… . {emphasis mine}

Yet, when it comes to the question of the Church’s obligation to alleviate the suffering of those who are in poverty, the authors reflect how the Church may do well, however, it is not the prime directive of the Church. The basis for this is on the account recorded in Acts where the Disciples requested men to be chosen to look after the welfare and well-being of the widows, orphans, and those who are experiencing poverty. The authors conclude that based on the New Testament, it is quite clear “…that each Christian has a responsibility to other Christians (Hebrews 3:12-13). 

What we are able to conclude is this: The prime directive of the Christian Church, especially in American society today, is to do the following:

  1. Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ
  2. Teach those who are saved (Discipleship)
  3. Provide a spiritual atmosphere where individuals become spiritually mature in Christ
  4. To produce the Character of Christ in all who come unto Christ
  5. Bring joy into the hearts and lives of all people through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

While evangelism is a definitive hallmark of American Christianity today, the latter principle truths have seemed to falter to the way side. Much of this may be do in part to the ever evolving ideology of various churches becoming more and more “culturally relevant” instead of “contextually real”. Os Guinness was interviewed, and subsequently published at Christianity Today, regarding the “culturally relevance” of Christianity.

With this, not only has the primary mission of the Church become watered down, the social mission of the Church appears to have become non-existent.

The Social Mission of the Church in America Today

In the article by Ayiemba, Theuri, and Mungai, we continue to read:

Assistance to the poor is therefore not a new phenomenon to the church. It is as old as the Bible itself. Both the Old and New Testaments affirm that the prophets’ and Christ’s intentions were to remind the rich of their natural responsibility towards the very needy of society. If the war against the oppression of the weak by the powerful was to be met; it had to target all those structures that promote this inhumane treatment.

In a work by A. Harnack and W. Herrmman, we find the following factors: First, Harnack argues that the Church, through the mission of Evangelism, raises the “…individual conscience…”

The first of these consists in rousing the individual conscience, in such a way as to awaken strong, regenerate, self-sacrificing personalities. This is the all-important thing; but the means to such an end vary; as the Lord’s method of teaching shows, it may either begin within, and work outwards, or it may penetrate from without to the inmost being. But the vital point is that there should be a Christ-like personality, and that in every action the power of love from one person to another should operate, and make itself felt. The kingdom of God must be built upon the foundation, not of institutions, but of individuals in whom God dwells and who are glad to live for their fellow men.

The heart of the Gospel of Christ is to bring to awareness humanity’s great need of a Savior. The nature of one’s own depravity and condemnation. This is accomplished in a variety of ways where God meets individuals where they presently are at. Christians merely preach the Good news.

The second aspect is the community fellowship of the believer in relation to Christ and the Gospel. According to Harnack, this community of individual believers are to be “…full of active charity, and bound by brotherly love…” This idea of brotherhood exceeds mere discipleship. It is the ability to provide a spiritual atmosphere where the Love of God not only abounds, it is manifested, in the concern and well-being of each individual.

Finally, it is the social context the Christian church finds itself. When we look at the meridian of time, and the life of Christ himself, we find that Jesus addressed the prevailing religious sentiment and teachings; as well as, the social climate of his day.

What this means is the idea that the individual Christian, and the body of believers, have an obligation to seek out, and assist those who are poor. It is the Church, and not secular governmental institutes of social systems, to care for the needy, to clothe the naked, to care for the sick, and to provide necessary sustenance for those who come seeking refuge and help.

Christ himself shared the divine truth:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” See, Matthew 25:31-46

The Biblical truth, the Christian worldview, is this: We are individually and collectively responsible to care for the poor, the needy, and to assist in what manner we are called to assist. Otherwise, if we turn away those in need (whether they profess to be Christian or not), we stand condemned as we have turned Christ away.

Probably, one of the most inspiring hymns of my own youth is that of the Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief:

A poor, wayfaring Man of grief Hath often crossed me on my way, Who sued so humbly for relief That I could never answer nay. I had not pow’r to ask his name, Whereto he went, or whence he came; Yet there was something in his eye That won my love; I knew not why. Once, when my scanty meal was spread, He entered; not a word he spake, Just perishing for want of bread. I gave him all; he blessed it, brake, And ate, but gave me part again. Mine was an angel’s portion then, For while I fed with eager haste, The crust was manna to my taste.

In Matthew 26:11, right after the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Christ informed his disciples this important truth: “For you always have the poor with you…”

So, the alleviation of poverty from a Biblical and Christian perspective is seen as the following:

  • The poor is constantly with us, and as Christians, we are to remember the poor always
  • Christianity is not just a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is a fundamental relationship with one another built on the mutual love and knowledge of Christ
  • Both Old and New Testament scriptures condemn the oppression of the poor in society and requires the body of believers to work toward economic truths and policies to assist those who are in need

In an article published in Christianity Today, Dr. Anne Bradley shares this:

At the core of poverty alleviation is igniting God-given dignity into the hearts of the poor by empowering them to be who God created them to be. In that, there is abundant joy. Our efforts can’t just be monetary. Poverty alleviation is all about relationships. Jesus loved and cared for the poor, and he calls us to model his example. If someone has an immediate need and we can help them, we should. However, that’s only the first step. While addressing immediate, dire needs, we must maintain the long-term vision of flourishing and self-sustenance. We need to help turn survival into thriving.

Dr. Bradley also provides the following “practical takeaways”:

  • Poverty alleviation is the church’s responsibility. It is the job of the church, the body of Christ, to care passionately and genuinely for the poor. The church must step up to their responsibility and be the first line of offense in addressing poverty.
  • When we do what God has created us to do, we help others. The impact of our work extends to God’s kingdom in ways we will never understand. Embrace volunteer opportunities. Serve your church. Work hard at your job every day. Love your family, friends, and neighbors well.
  • The fight to end poverty starts in your community. It starts with building long-term relationships, getting your hands dirty, and addressing real needs.

What this means is that when someone comes seeking assistance from any Christian church, instead of saying:

  • Have faith, God will provide
  • Pray and believe God all things work out for those who believe
  • Don’t worry about it, God will ensure provision for you
  • Keep coming to Church
  • Confess any unrepentant sin and seek God’s forgiveness
  • Pray that God will open the door for employment/better employment
  • I will pray that God will meet your needs

These are all well and good, however, this is the oft response to those seeking assistance, or who are experience poverty. And, these statements come from many Christians. And, they are more offensive and insensitive to the person suffering and experiencing a need. What I’m saying here, is that making these statements, one is passing off the responsibility to God and God alone. It is not God’s responsibility to care for the poor, it is every Bible Believing Christian who professes to love Christ and Love God! How is this so?

Because we are the representatives of God. We are the extension of Christ. We are the means by which provisions are to be given to those who stand in need. It is through us to bless those who are experiencing poverty. It is not the Government, or social non-profit agencies (as many of them do great help, yet, can only operate under the charity of the community at large); it is the very individual and fellowship of the Body of Christ.

It is here that the American Christian Church has failed her ethical and social mission of the Church. It is here, the American Christian Church has faltered in living up to the example and mission of Jesus Christ. It is the American Christian churches, and individuals within those Churches, that stand unrepentant sin because, as Christ taught: “by turning away the least of these, you have turned me away.”

It is the Christian duty and obligation to remember the poor, and to care for the poor. Not send them away, naked, hungry, and thirsty.

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