I am blessed to be a part of a church that cares. It really does. Lowell Church of Christ has several missions and local outreach.
However, even when looking at my church, I am left wondering: Is this all God desires for us?
Today I start discussing the issue of church and poverty, and the first thing we need to ask is simply: What does God expect of us as Christians and as his Church? Today I want to make three observations:
1. God desires his church to do more than give. Luke 4 makes quite clear that we are to proclaim good news to the poor. Proclamation of good news goes far beyond handing a check out to someone. It means providing the means to lift someone into a better life (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).
2. God intends the church to be more than a support center. The New Testament, including Luke 4, provides insight that the church will actually be filled with the poor. They will be part of us. It should be our job to treat with equality those of lesser means, and hopefully bring them to equality. We must stop looking at the impoverished around the world as "other" and start looking at them as "one of us."
3. God intends the church to be the standard-bearer for worldwide justice. If you have not done it yet, read Luke 4. God wants to make the world a place of justice. He intends to use the Church, the hands and feet of Jesus, to be the leaders of this movement toward equality and hope.
I have heard the many who worry about this so called "social gospel." Somehow, by focusing our attention on the statements of Christ that challenge us to do, to act, to live with compassion, we challenge the grace alone gospel. I do not agree.
Grace breeds grace. As we come into contact with the grace of God that forgives sins, it leads us to tangibly display this grace. Grace begats worship that challenges the "who we are" with the "who we were created to be." Grace begats love which leads to compassion.
Grace must be followed by more grace. Grace leads us to care for the poor.