This morning I shared my faith with a friend. It wasn’t very pretty. It wasn’t concise, or themed like an evangelical testimony is supposed to be, but I was satisfied to realize how convicted I was as I shared. As a few Truths rolled off my tongue & solidified themselves in my heart, I realized that these were the things I hold fast to when I am all but lost, though also when I am entirely content & directed. Grace, mercy & forgiveness are the ultimate attitudes I want to shape my life around (& be shaped by). A fourth Truth dominates them all — the poor are those whom when I recognize them, I am immediately thankful to be out of their shoes, & more that it is God’s desire for us to destroy that natural repulsion & embrace them as brothers. That means giving them dignity & helping them experience freedom from shame through God’s grace. I can’t eloquently explain my feelings about the poor or how important they & our response to them are to the Gospel, but my feelings are strong & one of the few constant Truths in my life over the past two years.
This morning I saw an album on Facebook of people posing with some of the poor in their community. All smiles. Their five-second friends plastered awkwardly to their sides for a photo-op. In the album it is obvious who is receiving charity; the distinction is even pointed out. Where is the brotherhood, where is the dignity in that?
Before I become hideously self-righteous (too late) — honestly, in my heart of hearts, I am not much better. I fail to dissolve the walls between the middle & lower class & rather bolster them when I pass judgment like this or when I fail to act upon my feelings about the poor. When I speak about the “poor” I often forget that “they” are simply people, human like me, with relational & physical & spiritual needs, not just a demographic or playthings to exploit. I may not be photographing them as if they were purely novelties, but I definitely passively deny them dignity by all the times I chose not to act.