Tag Archives: ministry to the poor

James on Justice (An Appeal for Classless Christianity) James 1:9-11

classism image 2

I’m doing a commentary through James’ Epistle with an emphasis on justice and the kind of Christianity that sees everyone the same––a classless Christianity. I put the highlights here in the blog and then unpack it in my podcast.

James 1:9-11 is the key passage for this episode/post:

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. (NIV)

“Any of God’s people who are poor should be glad that he thinks so highly of them. But any of the rich should be glad when he makes them humble.” (CEV)

James learned Classless Christianity from his ½ Brother, Jesus, the King of the upside down kingdom, and Master of the counterintuitive…

God is partial to the poor in the same way that firefighters are “partial” to houses on fire…

In the world, some are disdained and others acclaimed for their socioeconomic station, but for us those distinctions are irrelevant. Christ annihilates classism… Continue reading


How Jesus Feeds the Hungry (Part 2 of 2)


quote-you-pray-for-the-hungry-then-you-feed-them-that-s-how-prayer-works-pope-francis-81-13-03In Part 1 I introduced some thoughts, based on the familiar story of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000, about what I consider to be his typical way of feeding hungry people. The disciples wanted him to “send them away!” but fortunately he had a better idea, which I believe was more than unique to that one day’s good work, but a pattern for how he often goes about providing food enough for all to eat. Last time I said:

He begins with the little we have, multiplies it and uses us as distributors, and we consume it together in community.

Let’s take a look at the second and third of these. Continue reading

How Jesus Feeds the Hungry (Part 1 of 2)


quote-you-pray-for-the-hungry-then-you-feed-them-that-s-how-prayer-works-pope-francis-81-13-03Besides the resurrection, I bet you don’t know which of Jesus’ miracles made it into all four gospels!

OK, my title gave it away, but would you have guessed it if I had called it “Jewish Boy Loses His Lunch” or “Give All You Got and Get More Than You Had” or something of that sort?

So, why did the Spirit single out this particular miracle of feeding the multitude from a little boy’s lunch for so much press? The incident definitely infers a lot about Jesus and what he can do. That’s the customary Sunday School lesson from this text. The Christological and supernatural implications aside, I’d like to narrow this particular conversation down to his choice to use the human agency in that particular miracle. Continue reading

Improving Samaritans

like JesusBy comparison to the “Ideal Samaritan” we’re all quite “Inadequate Samaritans” don’t you think? Since we’re not very much like him, “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10) status seems a little too lofty to my ears, so I’d like to recommend that we at least aspire to the rank of “Improving Samaritans.”

Don’t forget, we’re playing a real-life game of “Follow the Leader.” Jesus wants us to follow him – copy him, if you will. That doesn’t mean we’re on a trajectory to become Junior Saviors, but we e shooting to be clearer signage that points people to him. As Improving Samaritans we want to love the Father and one another as he did. Continue reading

Some more excuses of not-so-good Samaritans


like JesusI offer a few more suggested excuses for being less than ideal Samaritans

  • “I don’t have time to help so-called ‘underserved’ people. I’m too busy just trying to raise my family and pay the mortgage.”

It says that the Samaritan came across the dying man “as he traveled.” He must have been on his way somewhere. The Jericho Road, colloquially called “The Bloody Pass” wasn’t anyone’s destination. You didn’t go there for a picnic and to see the sights. He found the victim while on his way to someplace else.

That’s where we may, if we care to notice, run into a lot of our divine appointments, on our way somewhere else. In order to meet the man’s need the Samaritan had to be willing to stop and be late to his next appointment. Maybe his lateness would cost him a contract or the ire of a customer or friend, but the bleeding man lying in front of him had a greater need than his need to be on time to wherever he was otherwise supposed to be. Continue reading

Manna, Meat, and Money (An appeal for a less self-indulged and more Christ-centered Christianity) Part 5 of 5ish


Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

Thus far, we’ve been talking about manna and meat. I’ve been saying that manna represents the all-sufficient Bread from Heaven, Jesus; and in contrast, meat is what we demand from God when Jesus isn’t enough for us. But where does money fit into this picture? Well, Paul, who taught that the Old Testament narrative was relevant to New Testament believers (1 Corinthians 10:1-11), proposed in a subsequent letter to the same church a startling application to the manna story.

In the process of challenging the Corinthians to pony up to give aid the poor in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8-9), Paul borrowed a piece of the manna metaphor to teach them about the spirit of generosity and egalitarianism in the Church. This time he associated manna to money. While Jesus identified himself as the Heavenly Man(na) with which we should be abundantly satisfied, Paul leveraged the imagery to show how we should relate to our material resources and demonstrate a radical liberality. “Just as God had insisted on equal portions of manna for all his people in the wilderness, so now the Corinthians should give “so that there may be equality” in the body of Christ.” Ron Sider Continue reading

My favorite book on “justice” so far (other than the Bible, of course)

justice 3I’m ashamed to admit that I came to the table late on the social justice topic. As an aspect of God’s compassionate personality and as a significant portion of our responsibility as his followers, somehow over the years this ubiquitous Bible theme eluded me. I’ve since discovered that with the possible exception of idolatry, the Bible addresses injustice with greater frequency than any other sin.

Though “justice” is mentioned 134 times in the Bible, in my three decades of pastoral ministry I never gave one message on the concept of justice for the poor and powerless. In fact, until just a few years ago, I’d never even heard a message on it. (That’s not coming to the table late – as in during the dessert. That’s arriving after the table has been cleared and the dishes washed and put away!) Nevertheless, to coin a phrase, “Better late than never.” Continue reading