I read a treatise by Jonathan Edwards on the Christian’s duty to the poor. I was really struck by something: one of the marks of the church (not just urban churches) is care and involvement with the poor. That’s how Jesus designed it. Edwards said, “Where have we any command in the Bible laid down in stronger terms, and in a more peremptory urgent manner, than the command of giving to the poor?” He is saying there is nothing clearer and stronger in the Bible than our duty for care and involvement with the poor — not just churches near poor areas, not just certain kinds; everybody.
The Sermon on the Mount — Jesus’ famous sermon on the principles of the kingdom — is clearly something he preached very often. We read, “Blessed are the poor; woe to the rich. Blessed are the empty; woe to the fool.” There’s no way to spiritualize this away. There’s no way to allegorize it away. There’s no way to “metaphorize” it away.
The Bible tells us the gospel, if you get it, does three things to you with regard to the poor. The gospel is an agent in us knowing the poor, becoming the poor, and loving the poor. Knowing, becoming, and loving. The gospel does them all.
This sermon was preached by Rev. Timothy Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on April 5, 1998. Series “The Church – How to Believe Despite Christians”. Scripture: Luke 6:20-26.
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