Focal Passage: Luke 16:19-31
There are times when even we “preacher types” can’t make something too wordy. I’ll admit it doesn’t happen often, and that even when it does, we try to be verbose anyway. But even so, we can’t complicate this one.
What Would Jesus Say about Poverty? He’d say to eradicate it, pure and simple. It is not complicated, it is not arguable, it is not even something we Baptists can disagree on. The evidence, the scriptural evidence, is just too clear.
From instructions to take a cup of cold water in “my name,” to concern for 5000-plus hungry people on a hillside, to commands to Peter to feed the lambs … Jesus drove home the point about hunger. Make it go away.
Many will want to point out that often when Jesus spoke of “feeding” He was speaking of spiritually feeding people, not eliminating their physical need for sustenance. But while Jesus was and is far more concerned about our spiritual needs, He is not unconcerned about our physical ones.
There is another point. Jesus was a great leader. As such He understood something so simple that we often forget it. Hungry people make bad disciples. That is people whose bellies are empty won’t concentrate on filling their souls, they simply can’t. I had a basketball coach once who told me to always be “hungry for the ball.” He drove home his point by adding that he’d never seen someone with an empty stomach lose when filling their stomach was the prize. He told me that “hungry always wins.”
If you read into my old coach’s axiom, you might want to say that hungry people do in fact make good disciples, as in those who hunger for righteousness will not lose the fight for it. While this is true, those same righteous seekers, if they are physically hungry will satisfy that need first.
The point is that we must first take care of all human need where we see it. There is no doubt this is what Jesus would have done, because it is without exception what Jesus did. And over and over again it is exactly what He told disciples then, is telling disciples now, and will disciples for all time to be busy doing.
Our “centering question” asks what Jesus would say about poverty. Jesus words ask us what we are doing about it!