Remembering the poor and remembering the powerless

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This post is excerpted from Dr. David Alan Black’s blog, “daveblackonline


BLACKphoto (1)What a powerful statement by Dr. Russ Moore, head of our own SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Watch The Gospel vs Sunday Morning Gospel Darwinism. I love this touchstone. As I shared with my Greek students this week, my life verse is usually translated “distributing to the needs of the saints” (Rom. 12:13), but I prefer to render it as “Share what you have with God’s people who are in need.” As Dr. Moore insists, we must learn how to read the “other” charitably, including the illegal immigrants in our midst and the Muslims within our land. As I write in the preface of my forthcoming book Running My Race:

I can say with some confidence: If you find God’s will for your life, you will be happy and content. Then you can begin to work with other happy and contented people to accomplish something great for Jesus. Church, we are all on the same team. That includes you house churchers and you traditional churchers. That includes evangelical Baptists and evangelical Methodists. We are cross-cultural and cross-denominational. We are intentional about overcoming the effects of consumerism (nothing turns off a millennial as much as a preoccupation with our church). The church organization is not central because it was not meant to be. We resist partisan identification as Democrats or Republicans because discipleship requires an abstinence from ego, greed, and selfishness. In Christ’s upside-down kingdom, believers stop being caricatures of their real selves and become real and transparent. We may even begin to change the way we think and act (instead of “Halloween is evil” we start alternative observances in order to leverage the holiday for the Gospel). We lead with love, not with doctrine (yes, I love doctrine, but love comes first according to 1 Cor. 13:13). A Christian gets a tattoo or nose ring and we compliment them and let it go. Enough of church-speak and condescending stares. A missional approach to life puts other people first.

Notice how Dr. Moore slows his words for emphasis (quoting the apostle Paul): “‘We remember the poor and we remember the powerless, the very thing that we should be eager to do,’ because we are conserving the Gospel for the future.”

I’ve taken to calling the next year of my life the “Jesus Year.” As much I believe in attending a church, I believe in being the church. Dear Millennial, you are not a “none.” Yes, I realize that small acts of kindness to others seem so inconsequential. A cup of cold water is such a little thing. Yet these simple things are the very things that matter to God. Your little trails of kindness and love and remembering the poor lead straight to God through the Gospel.

In the coming year, let’s experiment with what Dr. Moore is trying to tell us and take a Christian stand apart from the crowd. Sharing your room with someone who is homeless, giving your coat to someone who needs it more than you do, feeding someone who is hungry, visiting the widow and widower in their grief — Jesus said that such acts reap great rewards (Matt. 25:34-40). Sometimes kindness means refraining from saying something negative that otherwise you have the right to say. Kindness is a bouquet of flowers or babysitting for free or a whispered compliment or a warm smile or a squeeze of the hand. The teaching of the book of 1 John (which we are studying in Greek class) is that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with a God who is both light and love, and our love for Him can be measured by the amount of time we spend with Him and by how much we allow Him to do for others through us. The Bible declares that Jesus is not some nebulous power but a person as real as your best friend. That’s why I’d like to call the next generation of Christians “Jesus People” (sorry Alvin!) because, like Jesus, their lives are marked first by their love for God, then by their love for others.

Russ’s video is the kind of video I’d like see every millennial and church leader watch. As Dr. Moore shares his vision for a church that loves the powerless, he is charitable as well as courageous, full of conviction of how we are all to be the church. His words are wise, tender, and beautiful.

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