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I squirm when someone speaks truth to disturb my comfort and stir up my guilt. I want the luxury of feeling disapproval toward the guys who sit on the porch of the abandoned house down the street, and smoke and drink and cuss. And I don't want to hear anyone criticize my attitude!

Giving the poor a voice can be a powerful way to witness for justice. When the church speaks in its own voice, its impact is usually pretty small. When we really get it that the Gospel is about loving hurting people, and hope for the dirty, well, our voices get raspy when we talk.

It's ok to feel passion about inviting people to come and hear the Good News. It's really something when the church is passionate about getting out there and mixing it up, living the Good News so vividly that blind people can read it, and deaf people can hear it, and prisoners can touch it. What gives the church such a sharp sense of reality that no one can doubt its authenticity?

People can SMELL it and know the fragrance of the Kingdom, on the street as well as in the pew. We need to be in the places where we can listen to those in pain, and where we can tell whether our love is making a lasting positive difference in their lives. And even harder, we need to listen to the prophets who scream at us, and who make us squirm. I can hardly bear to hear the words, "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies." If a young angry cynic screamed this at me, I'd squirm a little. When God thunders it, I just want to hide. You mean he's really expecting his people to swim in a river of justice and righteousness? Angry prophets are easy to ignore. I can hide from the pain of their accusations. Have a listen to an angry prophet. It's not "Happy New Year" tunes. What do we say, fellow deacons?


Hi Karl:

Thanks for your comments. "giving the poor a voice for justice" is important. One way as you indicate happens when they comment on our lifestyle or attitude.  I would like them to be more involved in getting the government change policy. However  I find most people including the poor rather apathetic when it comes to trying to effect change.


Karl and Aguilla1, This discussion for me hits at the heart of a great 'sense' our brothers and sisters have about witnessing the Gospel to one another. Too often 'giving the poor a voice for justice' is squashed with negative reactions called today push backs.

An example is the role suggesting changing church music has in instigating almost immediate defensiveness among people who have worshipped using the same music for decades. This applies to most if not all denominations' individual churches. I am NOT saying this issue is that important, rather I'm using it ONLY as an example I believe we all can relate to in our life experiences.

It is very critical HOW we have dialog about 'voices from the poor.' There is another 'poverty' too often in churches and that is poverty of spirit that slows positive growth of Christians. Example: When we say 'voice of the poor do we then acknowledge the 'voice of the rich?' Which one is ultimately 'heard?'

Hi Fronse:

The first step is becoming friends with the poor. Listen to their stories, their hopes for the future, the problems they may have. That is much easier to do with fellow church members, rich or poor. I mean the poor who would never think of going to a church where all the rich people go. 

Once you can do that you start to realize how our society is organized with the result that there are too many poor people.

If lots of people start listening to the poor, these people may think to change things, and if these people have some power, change is possible. 

Somehow I think that music in a church is one of the last things that may need to change...



Hi Ken, If you mean push back from the 'poor' It has been my life experience that no person wants to be told or treated as poor. Poor people have egos, pride and sense of self. Depending on others has damaging effects on all three. And some people lacking understanding too often treat the poor as poorer than they (helpers) are.

I understand your focus on the have on affluence. That is so prevalent today that the poor do not speak up. Affluent push back is  more cultural and political and economic with the pretense of 'the American dream is available to all' as a default statement.

Bro Karl, I thought more about my last comment and want to say that I do understand the need for members to 'push back' however I am beginning to 'hear', not push, back but honesty of expression. Over the last few decades my experience has been moving me to listening for straight forward expression rather than political correctness.

With honest of expression comes some hurt and misunderstanding. Yet suppression of honest expression or negative reaction to the same only boosts anxiety and frustration from haves and have nots. I pray for understanding before I react and often a little time and prayer reveals members' confusion and/or frustration with difficult discussions and change.

I hope I'm making some sense.

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