You always have the poor with you

Chances are you haven’t met all of your goals. Homelessness is still not eradicated. Children are still going to bed without food. The community at large still ignores the poor. There is still much to do.

Imagine this:

A Middle-Eastern man goes to eat with a friend of his who had been just recently brought back into society. This man is the guest of honor and has a group of buddies who follow him around everywhere, so they go too. They sit down to eat and to hang out together. The man’s friends haven’t been in church for very long, but they think they know everything about how serving people works.

A sister of one of the guys comes in with her most expensive perfume and pours it on the feet of the guest of honor. All of his friends start freaking out saying, “What is she doing? We could have sold that and given the money to the poor!” They thought that’s what church was all about, giving up their possessions, but they were wrong.

The man replies, “Leave her alone… For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:7-8 ESV) Do you know who this man is?

Obviously, this man was Jesus, and his friends were the disciples. Jesus says to them that church is about giving up our possessions for the poor. It’s about Him. The disciples thought they had the right attitude always willing to give up something for Jesus, but Christianity is not about sacrifice it’s about love worked out in obedience to the Spirit. Jesus has made the sacrifice for us already, so we don’t have to do anything.

So poverty is still here! We cannot get rid of it, but here’s the deal: Jesus has gone to the Father and left us here to be His Body. When He said, “you will not always have me,” He did not mean that He would leave us on our own. He sent us His Spirit, who is the only reason we can fulfill what he says later, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 ESV)

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