Not everyone who comes here to read, reads the Bible.
However, everyone who enters our current "values debate" (spawned by the so-called "culture wars" over the past decade or more) and who appeals to faith as an informing source for the argument needs to at least take a look at what Jesus said about poverty.
Today I leave on a week-long vacation. My posts may come to a complete stop for a few days. On the other hand, I may stay at it while away. At this point I just don't know. Whatever the case, I think a good old-fashioned Bible study might be in order at this point.
Here's the deal. Dust the cover off of your Bible. Turn to The Gospel According to Luke and follow along with the suggested reading guide below. You may want to plan on the exercise taking 10-15 minutes daily for several days. For each reading selection follow these practical steps:
1) Read each passage carefully and slowly at least twice--three times would be better.
2) As you read, jot down the main point the text seems to be making.
3) Ask yourself when was the last time you heard the words you are reading in church? In the current debate over Christian values and public policy?
4) Meditate on possible applications in your own life and in future discussions and actions about our national life and cultural values.
Reading Guide for Luke
Luke 1:46-55--Mary's song. . .note verses 51-53
Luke 3:10-14--the message of John
Luke 4:14-21--Jesus' first sermon
Luke 6:20-25--Jesus' sermon on the plain
Luke 7:18-23--John's question from prison
Luke 9:12-17--feeding 5,000 men
Luke 10:25-37--parable of the Good Samaritan
Luke 12:13-34--parable concerning greed (Tip: watch this text at the end)
Luke 14:12-14--Jesus' guest list
Luke 16:1-15--using wealth to assure yourself a future
Luke 16:19-31--a parable for urban America
Luke 18:18-30--the focused life (resist the natural urge you've learned in church to explain this one away!)
Luke 19:1-10--a small man with an open heart
As you reflect on this exercise, look back over this list.
It is safe to say that Luke understood Jesus to be extremely concerned about the poor.
It is safe to say that compassion for the poor was a high-priorty, a first order value for Jesus.
People who truly follow Jesus also are committed to relieving people of the burdens created by poverty and injustice.
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