God demonstrates love for people who are poor throughout the Scripture.
God moves into the circumstances of people living in poverty to demonstrate power, strength and the ability to change impossible situations.
- A poor mother put her child on the river to save his life; God raised him to lead Israel out of Egypt.
- A poor shepherd boy brought down a giant and became Israel's greatest king.
- A poor Jewish girl became queen and delivered her people from destruction.
All this occurs before the incarnation of Christ. But this love for people living in poverty continued during Christ’s physical presence on earth. Christ identified with the poor at his birth, being born in the humblest of circumstances.
Mission of salvation
The mission of salvation started with an outreach to the poor. People mired in poverty could relate to the agony of death on the cross. The resurrection occurred in a borrowed tomb. The spreading of the gospel was entrusted to those who had little financial means.
Christ's encounter with people living in poverty during his ministry verified God's love beyond physical appearance and affirmed that indeed Christ looks at the heart of a person. To emphasize and teach this essential concept to the disciples, Christ does the following each time he encounters someone who is poor:
- He calls them out; he does not allow them to just be another person in the crowd. Instead of being invisible, he makes sure they are recognized.
- He uses their stories to teach important lessons of discipleship, lessons that could easily go unnoticed but are essential to Christ-like character.
- Each encounter illustrates that one's personal circumstances must not determine one's Christian witness. Rather, it should enhance one's faithfulness to Christ. Hence, a person's personal call to faithful discipleship should trump everything, even financial well-being.
- The abundant life that Christ offers is the very core of discipleship. It calls us to a walk of faith not by sight. Disciples are to look to the “not yet” in faith, rather than the present.
- Finally, each encounter with the poor affirms the truth of Romans 8:38 that the things present cannot separate us from the love of God. Absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
May we learn these lessons this Lenten season as we consider Christ’s encounters with people living in poverty.