Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan,
who are on the mountains of Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’ (ESV)
This could very well be read as an indictment of rich and privileged divas of today who party the night away with not a care in the world for those who struggle to keep the heat on in winter or for single Moms who can barely put more than a bowl of oatmeal on the table for breakfast for her growing son. But this could equally well be applied to middle-class, right wing evangelicals who refuse to have an ounce of compassion on the poor and disadvantaged, hiding behind a political platform of the gospel of free enterprise.
I have been struggling myself with the idea of helping the poor and justice ministry to those outside the church as an outreach (since the church in Acts seems to be primarily concerned with caring for the poor in their midst, i.e. within the church). What if instead of handing out free water to nice middle-class families (and potential tithers) in a “servant evangelism” outreach event, we focused our efforts on those who really need it: the poor, the disadvantaged, single Moms.
Lord Jesus, increase my compassion for the poor. For every ounce of worship, let there be an equal effort for those in need (see v. 5). Here’s my heart LORD! You are good and Your mercy endures forever. You have been good to me. Grant me a spirit of mercy, hesed, faithfulness. For You are almighty God (see v. 13), and I am Your servant.
In Jesus’ name – Amen,
Having been a single mom myself, I can attest to the great need there. I didn’t feel comfortable getting food stamps, etc, even though I would have qualified. During that very trying time of my life, I would to go to a Wednesday night meal which was served by a church nearby. They offered a very reasonable (cheap) price to anyone who came and then there was a service/youth program afterwards (which we also attended). This didn’t compromise my dignity, as many families in the church took advantage of the food and fellowship.
I have a big problem with giving food to able-bodied men who can work and don’t. But there is a way to do this and a need for conscientious people to do it. Thanks for the thoughtful article.
Thank you Sherri. I really appreciate you sharing your experience. And I have to admit that someone who had “been there” as a single Mom in need, is not really what I was envisioning as the audience for this post when I was writing it.
I do want to key in something you said about the help you received was given in a way that ‘didn’t compromise your dignity.’ I read something recently that basically said that the way we typically help the poor (the “soup kitchen” style assistance), while a nice gesture which does provide food to those in need, really tends to set up an us vs. them mentality (i.e. you are poor and indigent and I am good up here and am helping you down there). Sounds like we need to find a better way to help people without making them feel subordinate/inferior/pathetic (you said it best – “preserve their dignity” as human beings created in the image of God). Perhaps having us all sit at the same table would be a start.
Thanks for your insights!