What Is Our Responsibility to the Poor?


Another reason the poor are not interested in our gospel is our lifestyle. Often our lifestyle is so distant from theirs that the contact we have with them is on a very superficial level. This has made our witness ineffective.
If we are to be effective witnesses among the poor, we must be able to identify with them. But if we present an image of affluence we cannot identify effectively with them. The only ones who will be attracted to us will be the selfish "rice Christians" who will come to us to grab whatever material benefits they can get. If our lifestyle is markedly different from that of the poor, they will not believe we can understand them. They may even resent our help because they view it as crumbs from our tables given out of our excess—not out of genuine concern, but from a reluctant sense of duty.
God may be calling us to reduce our catalogue of what we regard as essentials because the poor regard them as unnecessary luxuries. By reducing our catalogue of essentials, we will spend less and so will have more money to give to the poor. More important, our lifestyle will be less offensive to the poor. This will keep the door open to them and will give us a greater chance to share the gospel of Christ.
Obedience to Christ may result in inconvenience and even suffering. We may feel humiliated when we compare our lifestyle with the prosperity of our friends. But this should not surprise us. Suffering has always been inseparably linked to Christian discipleship (Luke 9:23-26). What should surprise us is to find a disciple of Christ who is not experiencing suffering for his Lord's sake. 

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