Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Caring for "the poor"

Is it wrong to talk about “the poor” as a category? Many Christians, myself included, talk about our responsibility as the children of God to care for the poor. God’s heart for the poor is referenced from what is stated in the Word of God. Christian compassion is at the core of who we are as believers.

But something doesn’t feel quite right about talking about “the poor” or “the oppressed” as a category. It seems in some way demeaning. It gives the impression that they are less than. I get the feeling that to talk about the poor puts a separation of them and us as if they are different.

This becomes especially difficult when you know people who would be considered “the poor”. They are your friends. They are people you live close to.
To me, it is hard to hear them described as “the poor”. I think of them as … my neighbor, or someone I who is a part of our church, or as John Doe (insert any person’s name). It seems that there is a tension to speak of “the poor”, when the poor are the people you relate to. They are who you associate with.

Is it helpful to talk about the poor as a category or does that already cause us to treat them as different? Does anyone else relate to this tension that I am describing?

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