January 25, 2006

God's Presence in Poverty

Matthew 25:31-40

"Whatever you did for one of the least of these ... you did for me." Matthew 25:40


Back in March 2005, Time magazine featured an article on "How to End Poverty." Inside were pictures of children sleeping on city streets and of a woman scavenging for food on a huge pile of garbage. According to the article, more than 20,000 people die each day because they are too poor to stay alive. At least 1.1 billion people in our world live in extreme poverty. After rereading that article the other day, I turned to Matthew 25, where Jesus says that the nameless millions who die each year represent him. He says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you [do] for one the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you [do] for me." Jesus himself comes to us in these poor billions. He expects us to care, to help. What can we do? We can acquaint ourselves with some of the realities of poverty. We can find out about shelters in our immediate communities. We can set aside a part of our income to give for those who are poor. We can find a trusted organization to send donations. We can designate a part of our church budget to help the poor. Caring for the poor is not an option. As families and as churches, we may have to adjust our priorities. Someday Jesus will ask us, "Did you see me as you looked into the eyes of these brothers and sisters of mine? And what did you do for them?"

Lord, forgive us if we have been living in abundance but have failed to reach out to poor people. Help us to see you in people who are in need. For your name's sake, O Lord, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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