Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, refused to meet Foodbank charity chiefs over Britain’s growing hunger crisis this week.
Apparently, Mr Duncan Smith accused the charity of being too “political” and “scaremongering” to oppose his welfare reforms. The senior government politician walked out of a Commons debate on the issue of UK poverty in the run up to Christmas.
Chairman of the Trussell Trust, the charity that runs Foodbanks, Chris Mould said: “We reject the suggestion that we have a political agenda. Our interest is the needs of poor people who we see in their thousands every week.”
The Trussell Trust describes itself as “a Christian organisation motivated by Jesus’ teaching on poverty and injustice”. They “serve people of all faith groups and beliefs or none”.
So was Jesus concerned about the poor? Yes, He was! In His first ever public teaching, Jesus announced that He had come to bring “good news to the poor,” throwing in for good measure that He would “set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
Jesus may not have been party political – but He was certainly on the side of the poor and the have-nots over the self-satisfied rich.
It’s not surprising. Jesus Himself was born on the streets, after all. Forget cosy Christmas-card images of a lovely warm stable: the Bible just says that Jesus was “laid in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7).
A manger is a road-side feeding trough. Jesus was born in the 1st century equivalent of a petrol station.
It’s all the more amazing when you think that Christians believe that Jesus was not just any old person – He was God’s own son, who chose to come into our world to rescue us. It says something about this God that He chose to be born not in a palace – but on the street.
And that He chose to die a painful death on a cross even though He was innocent.
God identifies with the poor, the hopeless, the accused, the rejected, the scum of the earth.