Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos and Jesus all took issue with those in authority who refused to provide for the poor.
One pastor I spoke to recently, a good man and friend, told me he was worried about government dependence, like the food stamp program. When I told him that the vast majority of food stamps go to working families with young children, and that they are usually only on the program temporarily during hard economic times; he said, “You should get that out.”
He didn’t know the facts and the faces of SNAP. So many of us in the faith community have worked to tell the facts and show the faces — to share our stories, to “get that out.”
Have you seen the Fox News “face” of a SNAP recipient — a young blond California surfer who brags about cheating on food stamps? Why is Fox News lying? Why don’t they tell the real facts and show the real faces of kids who are still hungry even though their parents work?
How can anyone who has read the prophets or the words of Jesus come up with the opinion that governments are not responsible to champion the cause and the care of the poor? Not only to ensure none go hungry but that opportunity be given to everyone to fully engage as responsible citizens in our society.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos all took issue with those in authority who refused to provide for the poor. And Jesus insisted that regardless of who we are - individual citizens, persons of influence, government leaders, priests, common people, whoever - that to follow him would require the selling of what we have to ensure the poor are taken care of.
Psalm 72 gives us a portrait of what truly good government looks like: the bringing of justice to those who are poor, the rescue of children in need, the deliverance of those who cry out because of oppression, the care and compassion of the vulnerable, the redemption of those subject to violence, where abundance is generously distributed among all and peace and not war prevails.
Some will respond by saying that the priorities of Psalm 72 refers to a kingdom still to come. I would argue that they are also the priorities God calls us to advance here and now, not only in our theology, churches and private lives, but in what we require of our governments and all those in authority, beginning of course with ourselves.
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