SIDING WITH THE POOR BRINGS ME CLOSER TO GOD

Tonight, early hours in the morning and I find myself restless. It is the eve of one of the most important General Elections in British modern History. Does it matter who wins this Election?… From an ideological and political theory standpoint, no it does not! Ideologically, it is entirely irrelevant who is at the steering wheel in no. 10 Downing Street… So, why does it matter and why am I sitting at my computer, writing an article in the middle of the night?

The last 10 years have seen a huge increase in homelessness, poverty and even severe hardship in working families. Government imposed austerity is taking most of the blame, and to an extent it probably is to blame for a considerable portion of the socio economic problems Britain is facing presently. But my job as a Cleric is not to debate politics insofar as politics are concerned. Rather, it is the ethical, moral and religious aspect of the issue that concerns me and keeps me awake at night.

Our Christian Faith teaches us about compassion, charity – Love – and the duty of care we Christians have towards the most vulnerable. This “duty of care” should be interpreted in its broader sense, which is to say, it is not enough to take care of the most vulnerable, a duty seen as an abstract concept which boundaries are perhaps unclear, but we absolutely must exercise the right to defend them against persecution, oppression and be their voice when their treatment is deemed as unfair, uncaring, uncharitable and – why not? – even purposefully callous and cruel.

Here paths usually separated, cross each other. I cannot separate my Christian ethics from my role in Society as a voter, so whilst it is true that no political ideology matches the ideal socio economic doctrine in Christianity, one of the tools at my disposal is to attempt a push for change by using my vote. Reality challenges my conscience as a Christian, it presents itself as an image appealing to my heart as to what is the right thing to do to better protect the interests of the most vulnerable. My mind is unable to omit the consequences and effects of Public Governance policies since 2010 upon the poor, the homeless, the sick, the terminally ill, the disabled suffering from lifelong illnesses; I simply cannot remove the facts and numbers of victims of callous policies targeting these groups of people.

However, such considerations should be supported, not by the ideologies of Man, but by prayer, examen of conscience and Scripture. How far does God go if at all, in defence of the poorest? My role here is not to determine who to vote for. Instead I leave a summary of Biblical quotes as guidance and it is up to each one of us to decide what is the electoral choice closer to our Christian foundations in Scripture and hopefully less likely to continue policies which target and afflict the most vulnerable.

Personally, as a Christian, a Catholic and a Clergyman on a journey towards Old Catholic Priesthood, my conscience mandates that I seek the right answer, before going to the Poll Station.

Bible verses about God’s heart for the poor

Deuteronomy 26:6-9 (NIV)
“But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Job 5:15-16 (NIV)
“He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth.”

Job 34:17-19 (NIV)
“Can he who hates justice govern? Will you condemn the just and mighty One? Is he not the One who says to kings, ‘You are worthless,’ and to nobles, ‘You are wicked,’ who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?”

Luke 4:17-19 (NIV)
“[Jesus] stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’”

Luke 6:20-21 (NIV)
“Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.’”

James 2:5 (NIV)
“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?”

Bible verses about God’s commands to care for the poor

Leviticus 19:9-10 (NIV)
“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.”

Deuteronomy 15:7 (ESV)
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 (NIV)
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Luke 12:33-34 (NIV)
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Bible about blessings for people who help the poor

Deuteronomy 15:10 (NIV)
“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”

Proverbs 19:17 (NIV)
“Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”

Proverbs 22:9 (NIV)
“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

Isaiah 58:10 (NIV)
“And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”

Luke 14:13-14 (NIV)
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV)
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”