I’m really struggling with what it means to be with the poor. I grew up never really thinking about it. There were poor people and that sucked but I cared about where I was. As I grew in my faith and my friends and environment started to change I noticed a trend of it being cool to love the poor. Poor people was where it was at. We started to focus on the many verses where Jesus talked and admired the poor. We started to realize how close the poor people were to Jesus’ message of the good news. It became a hot topic. We talked about it, ran conferences about it and eventually I found myself living among the poorer neighborhoods of Sarnia. The question that still lingers is why? Sure we know what. For some reason our society and faith can always tell us what we need to do. So we know that we should be with the poor. So now I’m starting to wonder and understand why.
What do poor people got that the wealthy folk don’t? Well I’m sure we could all list a bunch of great spiritual answers to that like simplicity, the Sabbath, community and they are all important. But I feel like anyone with money can attain all these same things. It’s easier for poor people maybe to get them, but wealthy people aren’t absent of them.
I think the secret lies in that there is no secret. Poor people aren’t better than rich people. Poor people don’t have a secret access to the Kingdom that rich people can’t get to. That is what is so surprising though. We are always looking for the right kind of people to be around. There is no special person that has a better chance than anyone else. Some people say that if you don’t have poor friends well then you’re not following Jesus. I just can’t buy it.
I think what Jesus was doing was undermining the system that said that those without money were less human than those with money. He wasn’t creating new classes that said the poor are the best and powerful and the rich are the outcasts. He created a system that said there was no powerful anymore besides God, there was no rich or poor or male or female. He did it with money, health and power. The point was never to take the people at the bottom and make them rich, powerful and healthy later on so that they get their turn to have all the perks. The point was to say that no matter where you find yourself, with money or without it, with power or health or without it, you are still valuable and you are still human and you deserve to be treated the same as everyone else and God still loves you.
It sucks to say, but I don’t think that moving downtown to where the poor people are at is going to make you any more of a Christian or any closer to following Jesus. It’s not where you are and who you are with, but how you treat and love those people wherever you are. We tend to pedestalize people who are doing either what we wish we had the guts to do or whatever our bubble says is cool and holy. It sucks because we are falling into the same traps that we hated and pulled away from. Instead of going to bible studies every week, it’s moving near the poor. Instead of going to church every Sunday it’s getting a bus pass to save the enviroment. Instead of buying only Christian music it’s not shopping at Wal Mart. We’ve created another list of righteous and unrighteous things to do and we judge people on whether they do them or not.
I’m tired of jumping on one band wagon after another. Judging people by where they shop, live or how they spend their money. I think it’s time that we learned to treat and love humans as humans no matter what class, race or gender. Rachel and I are not living in this ‘poor neighborhood’ because there is something spectacular about this place. We’re not living here because we want to look cool for moving downtown. We are not living here because God told us to or there is something more spiritual about it. We are living here because it didn’t matter to us where we lived. We are living here because people are people in the rich areas, nice areas or poor areas and this house was a good deal.