It takes more than food to feed the poor.
A few years ago a good friend of mine noticed a homeless man begging on the side of the road. Now, any of us who have watched specials on television know that most of these guys are faking it, looking for a free hand out, right? A good Samaritan might give him a few bucks just to show him generosity. My friend decided to do way more than that. He picked him up and took him out to eat. After a long conversation over a McDonald’s meal, he learned that his destitute state was a reality. The problem was he had no desire to change. The conversation ended somewhat like this, “Sir, thank you for the free meal, I needed it. Honestly through, I just want money for liquor.” Well, how do you fix that? He is destitute and he doesn’t want to change!
Sometimes I think it’s too easy for us to believe that benevolence alone will change someone.
I do understand that people need their basic needs met before they can wrestle through higher levels of thinking. We all have studied Abraham Maslow and his infamous hierarchy of needs, the most basic being food and water. Yet we must not forget the most important issue of the heart.
Until there is a transformation of the will, any economic adjustment will be short lived.
What made Christ so different is his passion for people. He would meet their physical needs but quickly engage them at a much deeper level. He inspired divine ethics. I believe too often in our culture ethics and morality are used synonymously, when in fact they are very different. Morality is how people are living, while ethics is how people ought to live. Christ didn’t just acknowledge people’s physical and moral state, he inspired a whole new way to approach life. He delivered divine ethics.
I believe meeting physical needs is important. I also believe true transformation doesn’t happen in the stomach alone, it happens in the heart.
If we are truly going to engage the poor and help a needy culture, we must do more than just meet their physical needs. If you are really wanting to make a difference, join a church or missions organization that goes to the next level, one that mentors, engages, and teaches people. In that intersection of heart development and meeting physical needs, deep transformation can truly take place.
John 4:13-14 (ESV)
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”