Do Your Eyes Glaze Over When We Talk about Poor People?

When I say, “Poor People” what’s your first thought?

  • The abject poverty of starving people in Africa?
  • The plight of refugees with no home?
  • Public School Children on free or reduced lunch in the United States?

I was talking with a neighbor several months ago in suburban Chicago and he told me that he didn’t believe that anyone in the United States was truly “poor.” Compared to people dealing with famine, for example, there are no people in America.

I disagree.

While comparing levels of poverty is tricky and imprecise, the truth is that too many people in the United States (“the greatest country in the world“)  are:

  • Food insecure. They do not have enough to eat and/or they depend on assistance programs to feed themselves and their family members.
  • Unable to afford safe housing because a FT minimum wage job will not cover rent in most parts of the country.  In my state of Illinois, a person would need a minimum wage of $16.32 per hour working full time to afford rent on the smallest apartment.  A person would need a minimum wage of $20.87 to be able to rent a two bedroom house.
  • Anxious about losing Medicaid which they need in order to pay for long-term mental health care, catastrophic accident surgeries, or ongoing care for children with disabilities.

Denise Anderson and I would like our denomination and everyone to consider the fact that we have enough resources to feed everyone, to house everyone, and to offer medical care to everyone . . . if we are willing to care for our neighbors.

Remember when Jesus said, “The poor will always be with you?” He wasn’t stating God’s intention for the world.  He was stating a fact of human character.  The poor will always be with us if we continue to be greedy.  Want to know more?

Read this – Always With Us?  What Jesus Really Said About the Poor by Liz Theoharis.  This is my and Denise Anderson’s second One Church/One Book suggestion.  (The first was Waking Up White by Debby Irving.)

If you are prosperous and comfortable, read this book for the sake of your neighbors who are in need of support.  If you are anxious and struggling, read this for the sake of your ability to trust in the God who loves us and wants abundant life for us all.  If you are a follower of Jesus, read this because it clarifies what Jesus is calling us to do next.

The only reason there are poor people among us is because we have failed to share, failed to listen, failed to protect, failed to support, failed to see each other as human beings created in the image of God.

Do your eyes glaze over when people talk about the poor?  Or is it possible, that we can imagine a world without poverty and hunger and homelessness?

Please read this book and then talk about it with someone.  God has granted us the power to speak up and change things in the name of Jesus.


2 responses to “Do Your Eyes Glaze Over When We Talk about Poor People?

  1. Ordered it today. The seminary library also has it on order, and I’ve asked my local library to add it to their shelves.


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