Last week, I wrote a post that struck a nerve with a few of you. I know it did because the emails came pouring in faster than I could respond.
And you guys all asked one question: How do I love the poor without making them feel poor?
I’ve let this one question roll around in my head for days trying to come up with how to do this, thinking that the answer must be stuffed somewhere deep inside of me just waiting to be drawn out and have words wrapped around it.
But for all these days, I’ve had my life spun around and dumped upside down and it’s been in this cacophony of activity, the mixed up comings and goings of people, that I’ve felt Jesus whisper to me:
This is how you love the poor. You bend and swallow your wants and then you bend some more.
Every time my front door flung open or my phone dinged with one more request or someone stepped all over my best laid plans, scripture sprung up from the deepest parts of my well and over and over again, Jesus said to me:
This is how you love the poor. You show up and say yes and enter into.
Every time I stood over the sink with suds up to my elbows and my shoulders drooping under the weight of life that is too heavy, Jesus met me there.
This is how you love the poor. You carry their load with them.
So I’m going to give you an answer to your question and it’s not going to be the answer you were hoping to have plopped down in your inbox.
To love the poor without making them feel poor, you have to know the poor well enough to call them your neighbor.
And friends, my literal neighbors just so happen to be the poor.
You need to know that Thad and I didn’t move into our neighborhood in order to rub shoulders with the poor and the marginalized or to be the 10% in our neighborhood.
We didn’t move here to stock groceries for people in need or to clothe the barefoot or to provide free babysitting.
We didn’t move here to become a collection site or a distribution center or a filler of every gap imaginable.
We moved here with the lofty goal of planting a church among a people whom we believe to be a forgotten people group, the poor.
And somewhere in the midst of planting a church and simply making a life here on Avent, Jesus began to wake up the parts of us that we’d let sleep for far too long.
What we’ve learned is this: The only thing Jesus has called us to do is to love Him above all else and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
And our neighbors are the poor.
So when you ask How do I love the poor without making them feel like the poor? the only response I have for you is to become their neighbors.
Make the poor your neighbors.
And how you go about doing that is between you and Jesus.