RE:QUESTA space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Christian Teachings on Poverty
All Christians care about people, particularly those who are suffering and living in poverty. As such they often get involved in charities that support struggling communities, regularly donating money to them.
There are a number of reasons for this attitude, including:
- They follow the example of Jesus, who helped and cared for poor people.
- The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats teaches about the importance of looking after people's physical needs. Christians who do will be rewarded; those who don't will be punished.
- The Golden Rule teaches that Christians should treat others the way they want to be treated themselves. If they were living in poverty, wouldn't they want someone to help them? So, they should help others living in poverty.
- 'Jesus answered, “Whoever has two shirts must give one to the man who has none, and whoever has food must share it.” Luke 3:11. This Bible verse clearly shows that Christians are to reach out to others less fortunate, sharing what we have with them.
- 'Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” Mark 10:21. Again, this verse offers clear direction for Christians to help others, echoing the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, with a promise of reward in heaven.
Alongside these teachings, different Church denominations also set out expectations for Christian attitudes toward helping the poor. For example, the Roman Catholic Catechism states:
'True happiness is not found in riches or well-being, in human fame or power, or in any human achievement… God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them. Rich nations have a grave moral responsibility towards those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves.'
The Church of England has long fought to end poverty. At a recent Synod meeting, poverty in the UK was discussed, with the members urging the government to 'adopt an explicit policy of reducing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor and the disadvantages that flow from it.' (November 2021)
It is important to note that Christians believe that it is OK to be wealthy as long as some of the money is used to help those less fortunate.
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