“Entering the battle for justice, then, will require at least two basic things of us. First, it will require a willingness to see the scriptures as they really are: it will require of us the willingness to understand that God sees and cares deeply about the plight of the oppressed. Second, it will require our willingness to hear in our sacred texts the compelling call to move outside our small worlds and actually see and experience the world as it really is-inclusive of the suffering and pain that we could easily avoid noticing in so doing, we will experience the invitation of God to engage the world at its point of need and to be transformed in the process.” Jim Martin, The Just Church
Discipleship is and always will be the core purpose of Northstar. The goal is to do all the things we do such as worshiping God, creating meaningful environments, reaching lost people, etc., through the lens of discipleship.
We tend to make the connection between reaching the lost and discipleship quite easily. But do we connect discipleship and serving the poor? It can be easy to give the necessary attention to spiritual matters, while pushing the physical into a secondary role. A reading of the Law, Proverbs, Prophets and New Testament will clearly show that God advises His followers to actively care for the poor while cautioning against any indifference toward the needy. For example, Proverbs 31:8-9 says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Or Psalm 41:1: “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble.“
Discipleship at its most basic is having a heart orientated to others. Discipleship is about faithfulness, desire, and opportunity. We know what we are called to do, we just need to see the opportunities that God has placed before us. In that context the Lord has placed us in a community that has poor and homeless people. When we evaluate what we are called to do and what we need to do it becomes clear that we should serve and help this community. My prayer is that we will pursue this opportunity, but not without working through first what God has called us as His disciples to do.
I am reminded that I am blessed to be a blessing. This carries a responsibility to be a helping hand and share my unique resources with those in need. Very rarely does one leave poverty without the support of someone outside of poverty. God has placed us in community so that we can support, help, encourage and disciple one another.
A person in poverty is waiting for you to choose to come and connect with them. We do not need to neglect spiritual needs for physical ones. Those two areas are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, Christ demonstrated care for the whole person, body and spirit. As His followers, we must demonstrate the same, not allowing other areas of discipleship to prevent us from addressing the needs of the poor in our areas.
- Do you believe a part of discipleship is helping the poor? Why or why not?
- Do you have relationships with those who come from a background of poverty? If so, how are you involved with them?
- Do you actively seek to understand the plight of the poor and marginalized?
- After hearing the message, how has your perspective on the poor changed?