Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

Poor and Rich Alike

It is not uncommon for people to pit the rich against the poor, and vice versa, especially in political arenas. That is not something that Christians should ever want to do, for when it comes to our standing before God, being rich or poor is not what justifies anyone. We need to see the greater picture.

It is true that the poor, common people came to Jesus and heard His message (cf. Mark 12:37). Also true is that there were those more well off who came to Jesus. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews who believed. Zaccheus was a rich man who sought out Jesus. Jesus told him, “Today, salvation has come to this house,” stating that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:1-9). Joseph of Arimathea was wealthy, and he had Jesus buried in his own new tomb (as opposed to what might happen to a poor person who died and perhaps was buried in a shallow grave).

Given that Paul tells Timothy to “instruct those who are rich” (1 Tim 6:17), we may infer that there were those who were rich in Timothy's audience. Scripture shows there were those in positions of influence and people from all economic statuses who were interested in the Gospel (as the book of Acts well shows). We don’t find Jesus, the apostles, and the churches ministering to just one group of people to the exclusion of any other; we find them reaching out to everyone because everyone was in sin and need of the Savior.

None of this is to minimize the importance of reaching out to the poor. This we must do. Is it possible, though, that the rich can get dismissed as those who will never be interested? On the other hand, the poor are often misjudged and overlooked, and this is to our shame. Yet, the rich may be just as judged in our minds because “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25). Even so, “all things are possible with God” (v. 27), and we should never overlook opportunities to teach rich and poor alike.

The gospel is for all. It is not just for one economic class. It is not just for one ethnic group. It is not just for one age group. God desires for all to come to the knowledge of truth and be saved, so if we are ignoring any group, we are sinning against them and shaming the name of our Lord by which we are called. If it is right to minister to the poor, it is just as right and necessary to minister to the rich. If it is right to minister to our youth, it is just as right to minister to the elderly or middle-aged. Rather than judge any group as hopelessly lost or even more important than another, we must concentrate on getting the gospel out to everyone alike. Remember that when the sower went out to sow, he spread the seed everywhere on all types of soils.

The point here is not a political one. It has nothing to do with a political party or ideology. Christians need to see beyond all of that and know that God’s message has no boundaries except what we ourselves place on it. If we all saw people for who they really are, it wouldn't be about their economic status or political party — it would be about people made in God's image, who are lost and in need of the salvation that only Christ can offer. The rich have no more power than the poor when it comes to salvation. The Lord never crooks his finger at the rich or poor and says, "now concentrate just on them." Each group and sub-group have their own problems, but they all share in common humanity, God’s image, sin, and the need for salvation. How we approach people in their various situations may differ, but that we approach all people, regardless of their social status, is vital.

Even more, instead of looking at groups so much, perhaps we should concentrate on the fact that each individual within these various groups is a soul in need of the Savior, and we need to approach everyone with love and compassion, as did Jesus (cf. Matt 9:36; Mark 10:21). Each soul will be held accountable to the Lord, not as part of any particular class or group. If we can see each person for who he or she is individually, then perhaps we can begin breaking down the barriers that are often present. The gospel is big enough to reach everyone, so “everyone” is our goal. The effect of the gospel will then be shown: “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away” (James 1:9-10).