The introduction tells the story of a church group that washes the feet of homless people.
1. Whether you are homeless or not, what do you think it would be like to have someone wash your feet?
2. What does the act of washing someone's feet communicate to the receiver? What does it communicate to the one washing feet?
3. What do you think Jesus' attitude towards today's poor would be?
4. Does it make a difference to you whether a poor or homless person is worthy of your assistance?
5. Did you know that there is a growing number of women and children who are now homeless? How do you think this will change the way we, as Christians, minister to the poor?
What happens when a person becomes a follower of Christ? They begin to make better life choices. They give up destructive habits and become more responsible and productive. As a consequence, they often become more educated and wealthy. This is a good thing right?
Some of the founding fathers of the Wesleyan movement and the Church of the Nazarene saw the danger of "upward mobility". They cautioned Christians not to forget to minister to the poor.
1. What do you think of the statement "God hates poverty, but loves the poor"?
2. What do you think the church's responsibility is to the poor?
3. What organizations in your area minister to those in need?
On Friday nights, volunteers from the Bridgetown Ministries help the homless people gathered under the Burnside Bridge in Portland, Oregon. In addition to providing hot meals, shaves, and haircuts, some of the volunteers wash the homeless people's feet. Tom Krattenmaker, a writer for USA Today, was stunned when he saw that, calling it "one of the most audacious acts of compassion and humility (he had) ever witnessed.
This group of society's outcasts had their bare feet imersed in warm water, scrubbed, dried, powdered, and placed in clean socks. One man reported with a smile, " I can't find the words to describe how good that felt."
Krattenmaker later wrote, "Washing someone's feet is an act best performed while kneeling. Given the washer's position, and the unpleasant appearance and odor of a homeless person's feet, it's hard to imagine an act more humbling."
The leader of Bridgetown Ministries prepares volunteers for this ministry by saying, "When you go out there tonight, I want you to look for Jesus. You might see him in the eyes of a drunk person, a homeless person...we're just out there to love on people." (Give to Live--Stan Toler)
This is the third lesson in the series on stewardship. In lesson one we learned that we can take nothing with us when we die. Even though we can't take it with us, we can "send it ahead". We also learned that everything belongs to God. He is the boss, and we are just his stewards.
This lesson deals with an issue that is a bit more poignant : What is God's attitude towards the poor? What does another man's poverty have to do with my stewardship? Let's dig a little deeper and see if we can find the answer.
Some of the material in this lesson has been adapted from a presentation by Rev. Jerry Porter, General Superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.
God has a special interest in the poor
Helping the poor is like lending to God
Jehovah calls the slave nation "My people"
God rescues those who help the poor
The prophets defended the poor
God's judgment will fall on those who abuse the poor.
God will judge the wicked who rob the poor and trample the needy.
Says to care for the widow, orphan, foreigner, and the poor.
Jesus identified with,
and ministered, to the poor
Luke 18:22-27, Luke 7:22
The gospel is preached the poor
It is Difficult for the rich to embrace the Kingdom
We are instructed to give to the poor and not turn them away
Many of the early disciples were poor
They were considered "unlearned men" who had been with Jesus
I Corinthians 1:26-27
They were not consered wealthy, wise or influential
Early Christians are confronted for having a system that prefers the rich over the poor
John Wesley pointed out the dilemma of upward mobility...
"I fear wherever riches have in-creased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same pro-portion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world." John Wesley
On one level we know that giving to the poor shouldn't be a controversial subject; but the idea of handing a dollar to a homeless guy can get Christians dialoguing for hours. How do we give responsibly so our hard-earned cash doesn't pay for a cheap bottle of wine? Should we give anything to people who are in bad situations because of their own poor choices? Aren't we just enabling them to continue living this way?
I'm not going to attempt to answer these questions-mainly because Jesus didn't ever seem to stop and consider whether someone deserved his help. In fact, he came for those who needed him most. In Mark 2:17, he said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Don't think your way out of giving. In fact keep your head out of it and let hour heart lead.
(Stan Toler: Give to Live)
Here are some areas where you may want to consider giving or helping:
1. Your local church
2. World hunger
3. Aids victims--education and assistance
4. Human trafficking
5. Exploitation of undocumented immigrants
6. Victims of genocide or war