Last night, I thought of two passages in Scripture that talk about people who hold to correct fundamental doctrine, having proper intellectual faith, but failed to care for the poor and needy and did not have saving faith. The first is the parable of the sheep and the goats found in Matthew 25:31-46.
The second is the passage from James about faith and works.
"Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not
do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (v. 41-46)
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (v.14-17)
I brought these two passages up in order to establish that caring for the poor and needy is fundamental to faith in Christ. According to the Scriptures, it is central, not peripheral; it's non-negotiable.
I plan to post more at later times about the issue of poverty and evangelism both as connected and individual issues, but in this post, I want to solicit comments about the debate over fair trade vs. free trade. Today, President Bush signed into law the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which removes certain barriers to trade among the U.S. and a number of Central American nations. Many proponents of fair trade, such as Oxfam, are against CAFTA. Here is an editorial in the Washington Times by a U.S. Congressman in support of CAFTA.
After reading these articles, I'm not sure what to think. Both sides claim that passing or stopping CAFTA, respectively, will help the poor in Central America. I would appreciate comments from people that can help us all figure out what the best position on this issue really is. Thanks!