“They only asked us to remember the poor — the very thing I also was eager to do.” (Galatians 2:10)
This statement is so significant. When Paul appeared before Peter, James, and John in Jerusalem and presented his gospel to them, they found that there were NO significant theological differences between them. Paul was “on the same page” with them theologically. But they did ask him one thing:
“To remember the poor.” From later writings we learn that they did not mean “the poor” in society at large, but the poor members of the church at Jerusalem. Romans 15:24-25 says Paul was taking an offering from the Greek churches he had planted, “for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.”
But think about how important this must have been to them, that of all the things they could have said to Paul, regarding theology and practice in his churches, the ONLY thing they mentioned was helping the poor in the Jerusalem church. Is helping the poor in OUR churches that important? Most of us would have to say it is NOT. Now, admittedly our circumstances are dissimilar to theirs in a number of ways: we have a “safety net” of government programs in our society today that they did not have in the first century.
And yet a concern for the poor should surely be a concern to us, as it was to the early church. If the Apostles were to assess the faith and practice of OUR churches, they might well admonish us: “remember the poor.”