The Kingdom of God and the Poor

Written by Amber Bishop

refugee_bangladesh.jpgWhenever, I try to tackle a subject such as this, it is important for me to keep it in relationship to my own discipleship to Jesus. It helps me stay true to the process, let the words of Jesus form me, and allows him to lead me into his ways more deeply. So, when I was asked to write a response to how Jesus interacts with the poor, it has given me the time to think about what it means for me pragmatically.We see from the gospels that this was a big deal to Jesus and his earthly ministry. So how do the people of God engage with this in an authentic way? I guess I would have to say context. Before I jump into this I wanted to give you all a little background on who I am. My husband and I live in South Florida and with the help of many good friends started “The Well” community 6 years ago. He works full time as a mechanical engineer and I home school our three children. I know, I know, you are asking yourself, “What does a 33 year old white suburban mom, who home schools 3 children 6 and under know about the poor?”.

Well, maybe it is because I am poor and I work with poor people every minute of everyday. Maybe not like you think, but I have been part of the poorest and most marginalized people group in the world, and it is lonely and exhausting. Working with this group is thankless and it takes many years to harvest any fruit, but Jesus is so present in the midst of it. I find the more I embrace it and dig into it, the more I met the person of Jesus. Let me explain. Jesus was always about the business of announcing the kingdom of God to the poor and the marginalized. Well, children are about as poor and marginalized as they come, and mothers of young children are one step up above that do to the extreme disconnect they have with the rest of the world based on their situation in life. Because of that backdrop, I have a little idea of what it feels like to be poor or unseen and what it means to work with the poor and unseen or unwanted by society. Trust me, the world does not want young children, just like they don’t want the elderly, or the homeless or any other group that isn’t strong, beautiful and influential, but that is another post. It is special to me as a mom, that Jesus came as a baby, poor and marginalized himself. It makes so much of his kingdom messages go really deep for me.

We are all one step away from being on the other side, hidden, unseen, lonely and unable to do for ourselves. I don’t think most of society remembers that. Life turns on a dime and all any of us really have is the day. I keep that in mind, when I look towards ways to be Jesus in my local context. Our children are just now out of the baby stage and I am able to move about with them, without all of the paraphernalia. I have been released from what I affectionately call “baby prison”. Now that I am physically, emotionally and mentally able to be with others who need a touch of Jesus, (maybe more than I need it myself) I have been asking myself, “How do I help my children see on a regular basis, people who don’t look like them, and who have deep need, without it being a once a year Christmas drive by our local inner-city ministry?”. I am not sure, but I am thinking and praying about it. I am confident that Jesus will lead us into it authentically and naturally for our family.

To be among the poor is to be with Jesus and about the work of Jesus. For me, it is incredibly important to remind myself of this in the hardest days of parenting and be continually looking for those right around me who need a special touch, a gentle word, a generous gift. To incarnationally live this, is to be announcing the kingdom of God. Currently, our family is going to Peru for 5 weeks to live, work and teach among the poor, I am talking through an inner-city gardening project for young children that has been in my heart for 5 years with those I love and trust most to see what God brings forth and I am keeping my eyes open for young moms who are worn out, burnt out and need a gentle word, a generous gift or a simple break and allowing the kingdom to break forth in me and through me each day. Pray with me that I will continue to follow Jesus into it.

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