Is there a lesson that the church can learn from Mitt Romney’s statement: “I’m not concerned about the very poor,”? Perhaps.
* The outrage that has been demonstrated by Romney’s words shows that there is a belief that the living God, the Creator of all that exists in the Universe, has put in human hearts, that it is wrong not to be concerned about the very poor. Most people will at least say that they believe that people have a responsibility to help other people in poverty.
* Words often don’t mean much. While many people voice concern for the very poor, often they actually do very little to help poor people. Our words say that we are concerned, but our actions may say that we aren’t.
* Poor people need more than words (and more than a hand-out). They need equal, personal relationships with people who are better off than they are. (It is very difficult to improve your life if all the people you know are in the same boat you are in.) In America, most people who the government considers to be in poverty, live in neighborhoods segregated from the middle class and from the rich.
Perhaps the best thing the church can do for the poor is to go beyond words and to economically desegregate their congregations — to bring people of all economic levels together in close Christian community within individual churches. Perhaps the church should build close, mutual friendships that cross the gaps between those who aren’t poor and those who are poor. When people who are considered to be poor have caring personal friends who are better off financially, amazing changes begin to happen.
If you would like to see this in action, a church in an East Nashville urban neighborhood (considered by many to be poor) has crossed economic boundaries and is building caring Christian community that bridges financial gaps. Come and see for yourself what God is doing: The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, 225 Berry St., Nashville, 37207, Sundays @ 10:45 am. & Thursdays @ 6:30 pm.