“and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”
Isn’t it interesting that when Paul was commissioned to take the message of Christ global, the only request that the leaders and so called “pillars” of the church had, was that they remember the poor. Clearly taking care of the poor, as seen lived out in Acts as well as spoken of in other letters of Paul was central to the mission. And when we look at the message of Jesus, we see exactly why they would have said such a thing. Jesus constantly taught on selling one’s possessions and giving it to the poor, as well as several parables, clever comments, and teachings on the rich and the poor, and what was neccesary to follow him.
As the Church of the 21st Century, how do we take heed to the same ancient caution and exhortation that was given to Paul and Barnabas 2000 years ago to Remember the Poor? Freestyle with me…
Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD
Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well.
Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance.
His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign.
Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today.
His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action.
Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo.
Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.
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3 thoughts on “Just One thing… Remember the Poor!!!”
This is hard. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.
Dru, you have hit a sensitive (and very important) spot with this one. I agree with Jolene, this is hard, but unlike her, all too often I do know what to do… Unlike the posts you put up regarding politics or civil rights or what is the Gospel (where we can all show that we too have an opinion) this isn’t up for my opinion. This is one where I hear Jesus’ words, “What is written and how do you read it?” and I have to respond!!! I sort of cringe because too often I remember the poor right after I’ve spent a good chunk of money on something nonessential for me. Why didn’t I remember the poor before I spent the money?! At this point I can only confess that I fall short more often than I would like. I tithe the full amount – but I’m not gifting or seeking out those whom I could help above and beyond the tithe.
OK, I’m convicted.
I’m gonna do something about it.
Thanks for your honesty… I think most of us if honest are in the same place… realizing that even with the best intentions, we often waste lots of money on things that we do not need. Our desire to give to those less fortunate is often not on our radar as much as it should be, while the pull of consumerism and materialism is constant. We all need that ancient reminder from the apostles of how we ought to live as the people of God… bearing witness to a God that is generous.
I know I am continually challenged, and continually convicted in this area to step it up more, and raise the bar in “intentionally” looking for those who could use a helping hand.