God to us: Remember to do these things


By Stephen H. Padre

Here we are in the final days of August. Especially if you have school-aged children, there’s always a lot to get ready for as the summer draws to a close and you prepare for the start of a new school year. But others, including churches, often shift back to their standard schedules in the fall. Labor Day, which is next weekend, is always the unofficial mental shift of the country to the fall and a different mode of operating.

One way to get organized and ensure that everything gets done when starting new things again, as many of us are doing these days, is to make a list. The Bible readings on Sunday from the Revised Common Lectionary are a checklist of sorts. The lessons contain reminders from God of things we are commanded to do. There are many of them, but for those of us who work for the end of hunger through Bread for the World, the list contains some of the basics of working on this issue. Therefore, a checklist as a reminder to Christians of how to end hunger as we enter a new season:

From Psalm 112:

  • Conduct your affairs with justice (vs. 5). We as individuals and we as a nation should act justly. We can hold our government accountable for this and expect it to be inclusive of all people. Too often our government ignores people who are poor and hungry.
  • Distribute freely (vs. 9). As we all know, hunger isn’t caused by a shortage of food in the world. It’s a matter of uneven distribution. There is enough for everybody – it’s just not getting to everybody. Could we also be more generous in distributing the wealth more freely across classes in our country and world?
  • Give to the poor (vs. 9). There it is, plain and simple. Those who “delight in” and follow God’s commandments are to help people who are poor.

From Luke 14:1, 7-14

  • When you give a banquet, invite the poor (vs. 13). A party is often an explicit display of personal wealth. When we host a party or people for dinner, we want to show our friends the best side of our house – how clean it is, how big it is, and how much comfort and luxury we live in (“Come over and watch the game on our big-screen TV.”). And we want to show our generosity and hospitality. We cook a nice meal serve the best food and wine. As a nation, we do these same things but on a larger scale. We flaunt our wealth. We distribute government funds or subsidies to some but not others. We’re not as generous to some groups as we are to others. We usually share our abundance just with our friends. We are commanded to include the poor – to invite them to the party. Bring them in and let them experience some of your comfort. Pull out the extra chairs from the back closet and let them have a seat at your table or in front of the TV. It’s an explicit command: Go out and get those who wouldn’t normally be there – those who wouldn’t normally be included in the party or the sharing of the wealth.

Stephen H. Padre is the managing editor in Bread’s communications department. He believes living as a Christian would be easier if God just sent checklists by email.

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