Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’ Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward. ~ Matthew 41-46, MSG
It is absolutely true. Many of the Christian people we love the most will hurt us, disappoint us, neglect us, and even forget all about us, and they will do so much sooner than many of the unsaved people we might know and love!
Why is the above statement about many Christian people we love absolutely true? Well, the ugly truth is that too many of today’s Christians do not give a “rip” about anyone but themselves; they neither care about other believers’ unexpected troubles nor their self-imposed circumstances, and they also don’t care about the world’s unsaved unbelievers. That’s why when a believer or an unsaved individual truly needs financial help, or food, or clothing, or housing, or a friendly face on the other side of prison bars, or a warm phone call, or a thoughtful letter, and so on, the individuals who have more than most of today’s less-fortunate people won’t even give a thought about lifting a finger to serve the poor, nor give a thought to lifting a foot in the direction of someone in need, even though many of the world’s fortunate humans have more money, extra material possessions, better transportation, plenty time, ample strength, et cetera.
Despite what many of these wealthier Christians say they believe about God, the Lord, and even the unadulterated Word of God, their every-day behaviors are contrary to what they say that they believe. Above all else, many of these Christians conveniently just forget about everything Jesus the Christ teaches about serving the poor (ministering to the poor).
Now, the serving of the poor message not only is simple, but also, in the Holy Bible, this message is continuous—this messages is in the Pentateuch (the first five books), the books of the Law, or the Torah (the most sacred part of the Holy Bible); in the books of History (Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, 1st and 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther); in the books of the Major and Minor Prophets; in the poetic and wisdom books (Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon); in the four Gospels and the book of Acts; finally, this simple and continuous message is in the Epistles. Furthermore, serving the poor also is one of those weightier matters of the Law, which Jesus the Christ alludes to when He is speaking to the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees about those Law issues that they “consider” to be most important. To these so-called Law experts and Law extremists, the Lord says:
You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. ~ Matthew 23:23, MSG
Concerning the meat of God’s Law, in particular, FAIRNESS, COMPASSION and COMMITMENT, the brother of Jesus the Christ has the following to add to this serving the poor weightier matter. James writes:
My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, ‘Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!’ and either ignore the street person or say, ‘Better sit here in the back row,’ haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted? Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—‘Christian’—used in your baptisms? You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: ‘Love others as you love yourself.’ But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, ‘Don’t commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Don’t murder.’ If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period. ~ James 2:1-9, MSG (the blue lettering is this blogger’s emphasis)
Consequently, even though this biblical serving the poor message also is a contemporary simple and continuous message, a present-day weightier matter message, and a not to be replaced by the favoritism that goes on in today’s institutional church message, modern-day Christians in every institutional church still fail to emphasize serving the poor, and their failure is one of the key reasons why they also fail to actualize serving the poor. For sure, the Holy Bible emphasizes and actualizes the serving of the poor message much more than all of this world’s human beings—much more than humanity as a whole does!
That’s why it is so common these days to find the same self-serving attitude that the rich Jewish leader, in Jesus the Christ’s day, had. Without a doubt, if some of today’s spiritual leaders were to tell their wealthy members to sell all that they have and give those profits, along with what they have stored up in their bank(s), to the poor, these affluent “churchgoers” either would cuss out (shout vulgar words at their spiritual leader because they are annoyed with this person), or they would laugh in their spiritual leader’s face, or do both!
Why would any spiritual leader who is preaching or teaching about ministering to the poor receive either of these mentioned reactions? Well, the main reason is because it matters very little to many 21st-century Christians if their pastor(s), and other spiritual leaders and teachers, are living the same kind of life Jesus the Christ lived. Moreover, many of these same Christians could care less if their pastor(s), or other spiritual leaders and teachers, are discipling believers on how to live like Jesus the Christ lived, because for many 21st-century Christians the sad truth is they, like the rich Jewish ruler Jesus the Christ advises, love “their” money and their possessions more than they love doing the God sanctioned moral (right) thing.
Indeed, today’s affluent “churchgoers” just take a page from the rich Jewish leader’s book (life). After he asks the Lord about what the “good thing” is that he (the rich synagogue or Sanhedrin Council ruler [see Luke 18:18-23]) MUST do to receive eternal life, the Lord advises him that he had to do what God says he should do, meaning he must keep God’s Law. Once the young leader says that he has kept God’s Law, Jesus the Christ inserts: “If you want to give it all you’ve got…go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me” ~ Matthew 19:21, MSG. So therefore, just like the rich Jewish ruler walks away from the Lord with no intention to do what the Lord says is that which would make this man perfect in the eyes of God (cf. Matthew 19:22), most of today’s affluent Christians are walking away, daily, from doing that which would prove to them, and to God, that they are truly His children who are busy doing God’s business—who are busy carrying out the Perfect Will of their Father God.
Of course, many 21st-century Christians do serve the poor; however, when some of these Christians serve, their service often is more about feeling good about themselves than it is about loving the people they are serving. Furthermore, after serving the poor, many of these Christians often will boast about the good works they have done, which is their way of self-admiring themselves, putting themselves on pedestals upon which they are unworthy to stand.
Some of the worst of the kinds of “Christians” who serve the poor to make themselves look good are many of the mega-church pastors, many of these pastors’ pew sitters, and many of these pastors’ church board and/or trustee members. Lots of these mega-church “believers” will agree to spend millions of dollars on their beautiful edifices, with evangelistic windows—windows that say “come inside and see what we’ve done” instead of “go into the world and make disciples.” Plenty of these mega-church “believers” also will agree to spend some of those said millions on their ineffective outreach programs, which are meant to improve their so-called images rather than to meet the needs of the widows, the orphans, and the strangers in the community their particular mega-church serves. Indeed, many mega-church “Christians” usually don’t give a “rip” about their cities’ less fortunate, which is why they rarely ever have a personal relationship with the homeless, hungry, poorly clad, or other needy humans they serve. Why is this so? It is so, because serving the poor often is more about the natural highs and the warm fuzzies these counterfeit “Christians” get than about the seriously disadvantaged people they serve.
Any “believer” who approaches serving the poor the way that the “Christians” depicted in this article serve the poor is the very kind of “Christian” who ends up hurting, disappointing, neglecting, and even forgetting all about others in Christ, and/or the kind of “Christian” who treats the unsaved unbelievers the same way, especially if either the believer or the unsaved person is a less-fortunate individual! For sure, this kind of “Christian” either doesn’t serve the poor, or he or she isn’t REALLY serving the poor! The former is true primarily because this kind of “Christian” will ignore, neglect, and even forget all about someone he or she knows is in need, simply because this kind of “Christian” doesn’t want to be asked for money—he or she doesn’t want to be asked to give ANYONE some financial help; the latter is true because, even though this kind of “Christian” might give financial help, or food, or clothing, or housing; or even though he or she might be a friendly face on the other side of prison bars, or the voice in a warm phone call, or the writer of a thoughtful letter, this kind of “Christian” only is doing these so-called “good deeds” to make him or herself feel better about him or herself!
Thus, there can be no doubt that this kind of “Christian” is why calling someone a Christian or a believer in Christ today is the same as calling someone a “bad” name! No wonder so many genuine believers are more comfortable being around and being loved by their unsaved, upper lower to lower-lower class caring and generous individuals than they are happy being around or being in a relationship with so many of the institutional church’s bigheaded, uncaring, unloving, judgmental, thoughtless, money-loving, self-serving, favor-showing “Christians.”
For additional spiritual food on this topic, please read a few of my other entries: Easier for a Camel to Pass Through Eye of Needle Hyperbole; Spiritually Fraudulent Body of Christ Members; and The Lord Invites ANYONE Who Hungers And Thirsts