War on Poverty
Three times the Scriptures record Jesus’ matter of fact statement concerning the poor. “The poor you have with you always.” Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8. No matter what we do as individuals or as a church or as a nation in our “war on poverty”, there will always be a segment of human society that remains poor and destitute. What are we to do about it? Wring our hands and feel guilty about the food we eat and the clothes we wear and the cars we drive and the homes in which we live? I don’t think so.
As a pastor for fifty-five years I have dealt with the poor in every church I pastored. I have repeatedly answered the phone to listen to enraged scam artists shout at me to try to make me feel guilty because I will not get in my car and drive downtown to meet them at a particular location and bring them $50.00 or more to help them in their destitute situation. Usually their stories are all somewhat similar.
Throughout my ministry in every church I have pastored, I have visited the poor in the communities, sharing the Gospel with them and inviting them to church. As I have visited them in their homes, often I had no place to sit for every chair was sticky with food or other kinds of filth. I have been in homes in both Pennsylvania and New Mexico where young mothers with their little children were living in absolute filth with human and animal feces and broken glass on the floor. When our three children were small, often we picked up two or three of these school aged children in our car to take them to Sunday School and church with us. When we got home, we had to bathe our children to get rid of the fleas that had jumped into their hair.
I have talked to husbands and fathers of these children about getting a job and they have rejected seeking work for fear of losing their welfare checks.
Several years ago, a couple visited our church and after the service stood outside the front door hitting up the church members for money. After rebuking them for begging, I later that day visited this couple in their apartment and talked with them about their need. I noted they were both chain smokers and had plenty of canned sodas and junk food. I took time to show them that they were wasting their limited money and talked to them about cleaning up and going to a particular establishment that was presently hiring. I shared the Gospel and prayed with them and then gave them $20. from my pocket. That week they followed my advice and applied for jobs. Both of them were hired. They continued coming to church for a few weeks and then quit coming. Last I heard, they were both still working at that job. Nevertheless, I had done what I could for them, both spiritually and materially.
We live in a strongly divided nation of Democrats and Republicans with Libertarians scattered in the mix. The name Democrat is taken from the fact we are a democracy, that is, the rule of the people. The name Republican comes from the fact that we are constitutionally a republic, ruled by laws. At this crucial stage in our nation’s history, the choice before us at the polls is the question do we want mob rule by the people? We’ve seen that recently in the mobs who riot in the streets in opposition to business and Wall Street and also in the rioting in Europe The ultimate question before us is, Do we want the rule of the people, which is ultimately mob rule and the despotic rule of Socialism or do we desire to be the Republic under the rule of law, as defined in our Constitution?
The question at the polls is not who has the most concern and who will do the most for the poor and needy. Both parties have that concern. The question for us is do we want to go down the road of mob rule and fiscal irresponsibility as we continue to go trillions of dollars deeper into debt such as we have never known in the history of our Republic. With that debt we are seeing the devaluation of our dollar such as we have never seen before. With the devaluation of our dollar has come inflation, financial hardship and further poverty on our aged and on all who live on a fixed income. The question for me is a “no brainer”.
We are a sin-sick nation. A large segment of our society wants to attempt to remove God from our national life. Our political direction and our only hope for the future lies in the hands of Christians. II Chronicles 7:14 applied not only to Israel, but it applies to God’s people today. “If My people which are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.” Our decision at the polls will determine the America we leave to our children and to our grand children for generations to come.
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