There are countless texts in the Word of God (Bible) that reveal the heart of Jesus and His call for His people to care for the poor. Jesus indeed said “You shall have the poor with you always, and you can do good to them whenever you want to”. The sad fact is many of us do not want to or believe we lack any means to help. Crosses are never convenient.In that there are those poor who have made foolish choices and landed themselves in their needy state, many otherwise loving Christian people figure many if not most are largely “reaping what they’ve sown”. I won’t argue about the reality of this for in some cases it’s true. Yet it seems to me in terms of voting and laws either being enacted or decided upon that a great many Christians are less biblical than cultural, less gracious than Pharisee-like. Remember that “grace” means unmerited favor, of the sort Jesus gives us for our own sin and ultimate salvation. How is it we demand others EARN -our- grace?!Recently someone asked me about “the poor” and how I could take the political position I’ve taken in the past several years. What you are about to read is the foundation of my answer. It is the core decider for me, the “where”, “why” and “what” as I’ve considered a multiplicity of issues.Matthew 25 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. 43 I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’ 46 And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”The following are notes from a sermon I have been preaching from time to time for a number of years. They include what I refer to as “God’s Big Six” and a simple breakdown of what the majority of us can and should be doing about practical, human need.In Matthew 25 Jesus calls us to serve: The HUNGRY- food The THIRSTY- drink (clean water?) The STRANGER- lodging (“strange” to you and I -foreigner?)… the homeless- housing The NAKED- clothing The SICK- healthcare/medicine/clinic (or hospital) The PRISONER- guilty or not, justice and visitation/compassionate careMany Christians focus almost solely on the issues of abortion and what they (I) believe the Bible says about wrong sexual practice- specifically homosexuality. May I inform or remind the reader I was right on the edge of a full-on bisexual lifestyle when I began to follow Jesus in my 18th year. I have had a number of gay or lesbian friends, still do, and have seen the love and power of Jesus bring real and lasting change in their lives, just as I have among heterosexual people with unbiblical habits. My wife and I fostered and adopted children. My adopted daughter would have been aborted had we not done so. I spent time in jail twice with Operation Rescue, blocking abortion clinics, praying and begging God for mercy for the mothers, children, staff, the church, my country and myself. I have been involved in a number of pro-life rallies and demonstrations.I am not holier-than-anyone!! Yet I beg the reader to consider what they have actually done beyond voting and talking about these issues.While most of the six issues Jesus raised may on various levels relate to the pre-born and to homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people ALL of them relate to the poor, to poverty and not only to those who have encountered injustice or misfortune but who are very possibly guilty of choices that put them in such a state where they are without adequate food, drink, friends/shelter, clothing, are physically ill and/or are in prison. This does not mean- nor is Jesus implying- tacit agreement with people who may have done or not done things to place themselves in a position of need. Neither Jesus nor God the Holy Spirit Who breathed this text, nor Matthew as he writes his gospel clarify HOW or WHY a person or group ended up in such a state.Here, Jesus simply calls all who follow Him to face the ultimate truth: you are treating ME (Jesus) exactly as you are treating “them”.I work and serve in a local congregation that daily reaches out to the poor. To say that I personally live out such relational love in each of these areas toward every one I meet on a daily basis would be untrue. To say that I take them very seriously, try to apply them and believe I should apply them daily is absolutely true. I cannot in good conscience be part of a local congregation who do not seek to have such heart and serve people in these ways.May God help us move deeper into a truly biblical Christian life where the love, grace and compassion of God motivates us more than does fear, self-protection and suspicion of those unlike us. So many are less fortunate than we are. To whom more is given, more shall be required. God has given us so much. Certainly He does so in part… that we might learn to share.I know many individual believers and entire local churches and congregations are doing a lot of good in these areas. Absolutely so! None the less- If the church (and by that I mean all congregations of true Christ-followers) shared as we should and could, there would be little if any poverty in our nation and a great deal less in the world.I understand those who work hard and are hit by economic hardship do not want any government taxing them more to help those who seem lazy and simply by choice, “living off the state”. I understand serious Christians disagreeing with politicians who take other than biblical stands on everything from what seem like “Christian freedoms” to abortion and sexuality. I fully realize the anger, frustration and shame experienced when a government spends my/our tax dollars on things we find fully ungodly and reprehensible. I get it and even agree with some of the feelings and certainly some of the conclusions.I further support (always have and continue to) friends and others in the military who are by the way, not deploying themselves… whether I agree with their deployment, the particular war or tactics or not- I pray for, directly thank and owe a debt to each of them. I get it. I get it more than many reading this will ever believe I get it! But I first and foremost “get” basic human need- and I cannot deny Jesus in what He says in the above text.For me, He and His words trump all personal pain, sacrifice and political position.Meanwhile we agree with or castigate political leaders for doing (or not) what the church ought to consistently do. When these practical needs are great and the bulk of the church does not sufficiently work to meet these six basic areas of need, I suggest a government (regardless of political party) has not only the right but responsibility to step up and help.Does any government do it sufficiently, or to all of our liking? Apparently not. When has any American citizen truly enjoyed (God loves a cheerful giver) paying taxes… even paying them for what we DO like and agree with often seems a pain to most of us!So I ask the reader what I ask myself: what are -you- doing about these six areas? Study His words, then your own heart and actions. Rhetoric never fed, gave drink, clothed, housed, healed or visited prisoners or anyone else with God’s love or justice.