God came to the poor—in other words, to each of us.
The apostle Paul reminds us that “[Jesus] set aside His infinite riches and was born into the lowest circumstance so that you may gain great riches through His humble poverty.”
What does this mean? Jesus gave up the glory of heaven to be born into a sin-scarred world. That glorious night in Bethlehem, every day of his life, and in the deadly pain of the cross, Jesus became poor for our sake. Jesus entered our poverty so we would no longer be poor. The priceless gift of a restored relationship with God and others is now offered to those who could never afford it. The outrageous wealth of his righteousness is credited to those who don’t deserve it. To those of us who are poor, this is very good news.
But is it still relevant news? Can Christmas still change the world? We’re discovering that the answer is a resounding yes! But how exactly does that happen? How can Christmas and the way we celebrate it still change the world?
As poor people who have met with the righteous wealth of God, it is now our turn to model his generosity by sharing our wealth with those in need.
Christmas is our chance to move closer to those in crisis, not further away. It is our time to notice those who are normally ignored. In short, it is our turn to love as we have been loved. In practical terms, our love must include caring for the poor in our midst.
Over and over we see Jesus teaching that God is on the side of the impoverished, even when no one else is. Throughout the Gospels, he raises the status of those the world mistreats and marginalizes—people who are deemed hopeless and beyond help. Jesus is clear: he expects his followers to do the same.
There’s no way around it: Jesus calls us to love and care for the poor.
At Christmas, one of the things that should distinguish a Christ-follower is a love that reaches out to the hungry and thirsty and sick and imprisoned. Such giving is an act of true worship. There is a close connection between how we treat each other and how we treat God. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that whatever we do for one of the least of his brothers and sisters, we do for him. God takes these acts of love (or moments of rejection) very personally.
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