Chapter OneDISCUSSION ONE
THE POVERTY LINE
Consider the average family that lives on your block. In terms of
total family income, where would they rank in comparison to the
rest of the country? For example, an answer of 60 percent would
indicate that they are wealthier than 60 percent of the nation's population;
90 percent would mean they are wealthier than 90 percent
of our country' s population. Mark it on the "Country" graph on the
following page, and explain why you rated it as you did.
Now compare your average family to the rest of the world. As
you evaluate, consider the following statistics:
Half of the world lives on less than two dollars per day.
Six people die every second from hunger and hunger-related
Indonesians making shoes earn 16 cents an hour.
Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics and $21 billion
Nine billion dollars would provide clean water for everyone
in the world.
Four-fifths of Americans making over $75 thousand a year
would "like to be rich."
Make your mark on the "World" graph above, then explain your
Finally, where would you place your average family compared to
every family in the history of the world? Explain your mark on the
"History of the World" graph above.
Read Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with
him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be
gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep
on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are
blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for
you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me
something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I
was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed
me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came
to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you
hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When
did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and
clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one
of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"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
"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
1. What examples does Jesus give to divide righteous and
2. How would you summarize, in one sentence, the difference
between the sheep and the goats?
3. In many other conversations, Jesus clearly says that people who
trust in him-which means believing he is the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose from the dead-will be in
heaven, while those who reject him will not. What do these
words from Matthew indicate about the quality of life for those
who are faithful to Jesus?
4. When in your life have you had one of these practical needs-and
how did someone meet it?
5. If you've ever helped out at a hospital or a homeless shelter, talked to someone in prison, or invited a stranger into your
home, what kind of worries-and rewards-did you have as
Read Luke 14:12 - 14
Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But
when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the
blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you
will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
6. Jesus was attending a swank dinner party when he spoke these
words to the host. Pretend you're a guest at the party. After
Jesus' statement, you can feel the tension gripping the room.
What kind of comment might you make to ease the tension?
7. Why do you think it's so rare for people to actually follow this
command of Jesus?
8. What can you gather from the above teachings-the sheep and
the goats, and the dinner party-about Jesus' heart toward the
9. Imagine that five hundred people agree together to live out this
teaching of Jesus in relation to one another and in relation to
their immediate community. What might this group look like, and what impact might they have on their community?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much does Jesus' vision of how the
world could be appeal to you, and why?
Given your wealth ranking in comparison with the rest of the
world, what do you think your responsibility toward the poor
What opportunity could you seize to care for someone less fortunate
than yourself in the next week?