This question was asked by Shane Clairborne in the book, ‘The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical.’ In the survey, 80 percent said yes. ‘Of course Jesus spent time with the poor!’
However, it was the next question that really got my attention. ‘Do you spend time with the poor?` Only 2% said they did.
Let me ask that again. Do YOU spend time with the poor? If I am ‘in Christ’ and Jesus spent time with the poor – do I? In this crazy busy life, am I intentionally generous with my time to get to know people I don’t yet know?
In an effort to engage with their community, I read about one church who tried an asset-mapping exercise for faith communities. They had a very active soup kitchen that served those in need, but the church soon realized that they did not really know those they served. They found when they took the time that those they served were wondrously created in the image of God with gifts and abilities they did not see before. They did not want to be in that food line. They really wanted to be able to cook and serve. In response to this, the church started to invite people to make and serve soup!
They took the time to know those they once served the way Jesus would get to know them. And they ‘turned the tables’ on their whole ministry. In fact, this soup kitchen now sells their soup to local restaurants and groceries!
Generous living puts us in Jesus’ story of redeeming the world. It involves taking time to engage with people around us. The question we now must ask ourselves is, “What can we do together to model Jesus’ life of generosity?” How can I generously spend not just our money but time, abilities, heart and mind with the poor that God has placed around me? And would I be as generous with them as Jesus was with me? Or perhaps my fear of being poor has hindered my desire to be generous like Jesus.
Dear Lord Jesus – let me be like the 2% – and give myself for your sake.
Sandy Crozier is the Stewardship Ministries Director for The Free Methodist Church in Canada