Teresa of Avila said, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion looks out on the world.”
While those words sound beautiful, many of us in the body of Christ struggle with how to care for broken people. Compassion comes easily for people who are like us, but what about people on the margins of society. How can we be the hands and feet of Christ to people who are struggling in the downward spiral of poverty and isolation?
Jesus was very clear in His teaching that Christians don’t have the option not to care for the down and out.
The Good Samaritan crossed the road and was moved by compassion for the mugged man. He got involved by bandaging his wounds and then took him to the nearest rehab center and paid for his rehabilitation.
What we do for the least of these, Jesus said, is what we do for Him. The list included providing food and clothing, looking after people in prison, caring for the sick and taking in strangers.
Compassionate care for the poor is central to the teaching of Scripture. Ultimately the power to overcome poverty lies in learning to live the Jesus way, to follow Him in how He interacted with the poor and the marginalized, and to be willing—like Jesus, to lay down our self-centered, materialistic lives to take up the cross of loving generosity, gentle kindness, and tenacious advocacy for the rights of the poor and the oppressed.
Caring for the poor is something we do together. In the body of Christ, we each have a role to play. God raises up leaders who start movements, ministries and organizations that are feeding and clothing the homeless, providing shelter, caring for the sick and ministering to those in prison. Each of us can join these movements in some way through giving and volunteering.
When was the last time you shared a meal or had a meaningful conversation with a poor person? Find a ministry in your community that is caring for people in need and find out how you can get involved. It will change your life.
The Christian church is the largest grassroots movement on earth. How we respond to the poor is central to the life and teachings of Jesus and to what it means for us to follow Christ. Together we can make a profound impact on poverty. Indeed, I believe we are called by God to do so. (ARLOA SUTTER)