Pastor's Message for May 2016
Have you ever heard the expression: 'How the other half live'. It has even been used as a title for a new British TV show. What the expression usually refers to is the condition of those who live in material poverty and very poor housing.
The other week, my wife and I went for a walk among some of the more prestigious houses in one of our bayside suburbs of Melbourne. We were aghast at the sheer opulence of many of these homes. It was obvious that these homes were luxurious 'to the max' with their marble walls and floors, their expensive furniture, their tennis courts and swimming pools, and their triple garages filled with boats and high end cars. For us, as we walked, this was an eye opener of how the other half live. We asked ourselves the question: 'Would we like to live this obviously lavish lifestyle', and we came back with a resounding - No!
Now, while I am happy for people to have good incomes to afford these homes, and while I am happy for them to spend their money, because it creates employment, I am concerned that maybe some of this obvious wealth could also be used to alleviate some of the suffering and hardship of those less fortunate. While it is true that the Lord Jesus said, '.. you have the poor with you always ..' (Mk.14:7), he said it in the context not to dismiss or ignore the needs of the poor, but to put our care for the poor in a right context. When we read the full sentence of Jesus' statement it takes on a different light: 'For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.' From this we learn that the Lord Jesus would have us not ignore or neglect the poor and needy.
In Australia today, there are so many services and safety nets to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. We have numerous charities and the Government Centrelink services, just to name two resources available. But, what about the people in many of the third world countries where there are no government services and very few local charities. In most of these countries, the burden of care falls upon the extended family and friends. It is so often left to a few international NGO's and Mission agencies to help support families where they can. At a time when Australian's seem to have so much, could we not encourage a greater awareness of the continuing needs of those in less fortunate countries, and greater acts of generosity, because we have been so blessed by God in this country of Australia.
And let us not forget that poverty comes in two very different ways: those who are poor, because of a lack of material resources (Lk.6:20), and those who are poor because they know they are in need of spiritual direction and teaching (Matt.5:3). This May, may our hearts and hands be opened to reach out and make a difference in the lives of even a few.
The home of the Bulleen Baptist Church and the SonLife Community Church.
While we maintain our individual identities and ministries, our two congregations work and grow together in shared fellowship and ministry to our community. For more information regarding SonLife Community Church click on the image on the left to go to their website.