When I first came to Samford University, I found myself facing a huge culture shock. Most people here came from wealthy, southern families. They had money to spare and could afford to spend money buying brand-name clothing and eating out two or three times a week. I, on the other hand, did not grow up this way. I had worked since the day I was legally allowed to work. I had spent the past year serving the poor through an international missions organization. I just returned from a week in Nicaragua, digging trenches alongside of some of the poorest people in the Western hemisphere.
During your first year of college, you get a fair dose of eye-opening conversations. One particular conversation happened when I was staying at a friend’s house, when my friend’s mom mentioned how they were planning to relocate again. This house, she explained, was too small, and she didn’t like the layout. Apparently no one liked the house. When she said that, I glanced around the house. Seriously?!?! I get that you spend most of your time here, but seriously?!?!
Every fiber in body hurt. Why?!? They have everything. A doctor and a stay-at-home mom with three incredible kids and two dogs. They have a huge house in a wonderful part of town. God has given them everything they could ever want, and yet, they still want more.
I look at the American Dream that my Samford friends are living, and then I look at the reality of my Nicaraguan friends are living. The difference is overwhelming, to the point that I want to be angry, hating the wealthy while loving the poor.
But what I realized later on is that God calls me to love both the rich and the poor. I’m expected to meet people where they are at – whether they are living in a rural village in Nicaragua or in a huge house in Raleigh, North Carolina – and love them unconditionally.
Loving unconditionally means loving a person for who they are – no matter what their social situation is and no matter what they do, say, or believe. It’s not an easy thing to do. Even the rich need to be loved. They may have all the material possessions they will ever need, but they still need to feel loved, wanted, and appreciated.
I shouldn’t care about the poor more than I love the rich. I shouldn’t serve the poor more than I love the rich. I shouldn’t love the poor more than I love the rich.
Because God loves them equally, so should I.