“Can you identify with the poor?”
The question posed last Sunday in church got real personal. The clarion call came from Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
What does justice and mercy have to do with God’s will? Apparently a lot. And it was time to find out how it applied to us. In the Old Testament, righteousness and justice are paired together in Psalm 33:5, Psalm 97:2, Psalm 103:6 and Amos 5:24. But the New Testament uses the Greek word dikaiosyne, which means righteousness and justice, as in Matthew 6:33, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and 1 Peter 2:24.
I’m all for justice and mercy, just-as-soon as I can fit it into my schedule. And that was the point of this sermon. If we really identified with the poor, their needs would move to top priority. We would move heaven and earth to help people overcome the obstacles that hold them back. And we would move our own needs aside to help others.
The 5 Day Challenge was issued to help us identify with poverty:
Breakfast - a packet of oatmeal
Lunch - 1 cup of rice and 1 cup of beans
Supper - 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of beans and a smattering of vegetables
Day 2: I’m not starving, but I had to choke down my pinto beans at supper. I’ve been tempted to grab some hot sauce, Worcestershire or spices to doctor up the beans and rice. But, I’m trying to identify with people who don’t have those options available to them. So, the fare remains plain. The hardest part of this experiment is in finding out how spoiled I am. I have access to food at any time, day or night, and any variety imaginable. But I gripe when my favorite juice is all gone, or when the meat isn’t cooked to my liking. Shame on me. Know what I just realized? When I came through the line at the grocery store tonight, I opted not to give to the food drive at the register. Guess I haven’t learned enough from the Poverty Diet yet!
“Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
Rescue the poor and helpless;
deliver them from the grasp of evil people.” Psalm 82:3-4