Thanksgiving: For Richer or Poorer
- Monday, November 15, 2010
The rich eat ham,
The poor eat tuna.
Doesn’t take as long to cook,
So we eat soona.
The words of that heretofore unknown poem were uttered by my lifelong best friend sometime around our senior year of high school. He conjured it out of thin air while I was spending the night at his house. It was the result of one of those "I'm so tired I’m laughing at anything" sessions you’d often experience with close friends around midnight.
It was also the result of Jay’s enduring awareness of the socio-economic differences between himself and many of his friends, like me, from the affluent north side of town. So whenever I think of ham, tuna or Jay, I often think of richness and poorness as well.
Recently, thanks to a fantastic tour around the Missionary Learning Center outside Richmond, I was thinking about missions and outreach. It struck me as I looked at their map that whenever a mission of mercy or evangelism is commissioned, it tends to be to an area where there is a high concentration of poverty, whether it’s to India, Mexico or inner-city Philadelphia. Well, yes, as it should be.
After all, Christ commanded us, if we loved Him, to tend to His lambs (John 21:15-17). James 2:15 admonishes us not to ignore those in need of food or clothing. Paul and the Apostles started churches among those who were poor (Acts 9:36; 10:4). Poverty was crippling in the time of Christ and so it continues to be now. The very fact that Jay had a roof over his head and the fish he despised came in a can rather than him having to catch it made him one of the wealthiest persons on the planet. So the holidays are certainly a time to think about – nay, physically assist – those less fortunate than ourselves (2 Corinthians 9:9).
Then again, are we missing something?
Consider James 1:9 – "Christians who are poor should be glad, for God has honored them." There are lots of ways to be poor, and Jesus told us they brought about blessing in the long run (Matthew 5:3-12). Those poor in spirit will inherit the kingdom of heaven. Those mourning loved ones will be comforted. Those who make peace rather than seeking their own profit will be called sons of God, Who chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith (James 2:5). 2 Corinthians 6:10 states: "Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything."
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