Galatians 2:11, But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
I once heard a minister make this recommendation to a room full of “new” or “soon to be” ministers about what ministry should be. His comment was simple, “If you say you care, then be sure you do.” In his words was much wisdom. Too many times I have heard the words “we care,” only to witness the actions that betray our words. This is especially true in a world that tells you what you want to hear, only to walk away and forget the struggles they were just discussing. Unfortunately, members of the body of Christ can be that way as well. If we are ever going to be what we were created to be, then we really must care.
Sometimes, Biblical characters would vary in agreement over one thing or another. But one overriding principle always held true. As Paul tells the Galatians while he, Peter, James, and John would discuss the Gospel – Paul would continue to remember the poor. (Galatians 2:10) The Hebrew writer recommends us to remember those in prison as if we were fellow inmates. (Hebrews 13:3) John questions the faith of anyone who stops hearing the cries of the needy. (1 John 3:17-18) So many people struggle to know if they are truly what God wants them to be, and yet the truth is just a heart check away – do I really care about others? Am I reaching out to those who truly need, or am I so wrapped up in my own world that I can’t see beyond my mirror to help my brother? (1 John 3:19-20)
The greatest Christian thinkers and the greatest secular classical novelists have all addressed the needy in a world of great extremes. Both opulence and poverty coexist, sometimes within feet of each other. We have Biblical stories of the rich having to, literally, step over the poor to go through daily life. (Luke 16:19-31) Interestingly, many excuse their apathy toward the needs of others with some philosophical ideas about responsibility and working harder. While those might work in some way for some people, sometimes people are poor regardless of how hard they work. Jesus would remind us that the poor would always live among us. (John 12:8)
I realize we can’t make all people rich. I am not for some socialistic/economic answer which essentially makes everyone poor except a few government leaders.
I am simply advocating that God’s people treat all people with respect and dignity, without regard to economics, or race, or gender, or cultural background. (Acts 10:34) From those deeply entrenched in sin, to those who have grown through the spiritual adversity of sin to gain real spiritual stature by the blood of Christ, all should be loved and treated with the kind of deference due to anyone made in the image of God.
It seems everyone today has a side on nearly every issue. From gun control, to abortion, to equality of all races and religions, people have taken a stand in one area or another. For the Christian my plea is simple. Spiritual success is less about government, philosophy or legality, it is truly about God. God’s kingdom is about His Holy government, Godly philosophy, and The Word’s definition of right and wrong. We will never find the purity or righteousness of God in a worldly government, so it shouldn’t surprise us when these secular institutions fail to succeed. In world history governments have risen and fallen. Any human institution is prone to failure at some point. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see our nation fail, but be sure that in some ways it already has. While we can fix it, we had better get it done soon. For those who run for office I would suggest that your moral compass is your most vital instrument, not your supporter’s bank account, or the influence it might buy. Your moral direction is more important than the selfish interest of those who tug at the hem of your garment or push you forward for their own interest. For those with the power to vote, study to make your vote effective for positive change. Our vote should never be based on the “knee jerk reaction” of an uninformed or otherwise selfish position. It should reflect the values of a people who really have the light to displace the darkness.