(Thanks to Robert Martin for the video.)
A friend of mine just told me about her home church in a rich European city. Lots of wealthy people are going there, and eventually a poor Romanian beggar showed up asking for money outside the church. My friend and her friends felt compassion for this poor woman, got her some breakfast and invited her in. People were staring. People were whispering. A lady came to them and said that the Romanian woman is scaring her children and that she’s probably involved in trafficking, with criminals taking the money she is begging for. Eventually, a man came and led her out of the church. She wasn’t welcome.
Needless to say, my friend and her friends were chocked. They took this lady to another church. Here, she was radically saved, receiving Christ as her saviour. She was very happy, but even though if she wasn’t kicked out this time, most people didn’t speak to her or tried to build a relationship with her. My friend and her friends were the exception of course, they collected money for her to pay for her son’s surgery back in Romania, but it was hard since many fellow Christians didn’t want to give.
Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
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? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? (James 2:2-6)
Before we judge these churches though, examine yourself and your own congregation. John Chrysostom said “When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.” Are there any poor people in your church? If not, why don’t they come? If there are, are their needs met? What is your attitude to the beggar on the street? Do you give to the one who asks you as Jesus commanded us (Lk 6:30)? Do you have prejudices like in the video above?