Truth Be Told

My upcoming book with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah titled "Unsettling Truths - The Ongoing Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery" is now available for pre-order from InterVarsity Press.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Biblical Response to Poverty

Recently, in a sermon titled "More than survival" I preached on the issue of poverty. Most people define poverty in financial terms. I define poverty as the inability to make choices. The wealthy believe they are 'in control', and have options while the poor believe they are 'out of control' and have no options. According to the Scriptures, both of those beliefs are wrong but I would argue that the prior is more Biblically inaccurate than the latter.

So what should the response of the church be to poverty? Do we preach justice to the rich and exhort them to act rightly? Absolutely. Do we speak prophetically to our leaders and challenge them to hear the cries of their people? Without a doubt. Do we hold our own wealth with an open hand and give freely to those around us who are in need? Yes.

But, as the Bride of Christ, we are also called to do more than that.

Following the example of our husband Jesus (who submitted himself unto death, even death on a cross), we too need to give up our options and become poor ourselves so that we can identify with the needs of the poor. Then through our own faith and living testimony among them we will truly be able to offer hope in the midst of their circumstances.

The ultimate testimony of victory over poverty is not escaping it and living a life of luxury. It is freely choosing to enter back into it, for the sake of loving and helping others, because you know it has no power over you.


Unknown said...

I see what you are saying, but I wonder about it. If the only means for truly empathizing and offering hope in Christ is to live into the other person's experience, then we are limited in offering hope. My experience will never be the same as yours. Even if I choose to enter into poverty giving up what few options I have, it will still never be the same. Moreover, if this is the only means for offering hope in Christ, then how can I offer hope in Christ to my friend who lost his child to suicide, or the young woman who has been repeatedly raped by her father, or the middle-aged man who struggles with his sexual identity? I cannot adequately live into those experiences, yet I believe that in Christ I can seek to understand and still offer hope.

Unknown said...

Proverbs 30:8,9 "Remove me from vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches ; feed me with the food convenient for me: lest i be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? Or lest i be poor, and steel, and take the name of my God in vain."

Rick Frueh said...

Being a joint heir with Christ renders the word "poverty" as moot. The word indicates a diminished level of something, but when you have eternal life I cannot imagine what can diminish that. That is why God has chosen the poor rich in faith, and that is why we as believers must reach out to the earthly poor in order to create a bridge to the eternal One.

Maria Ording said...

I was fascinated by your finishing sentences, but I still wonder. I recently became a "fadder", in Swedish: It means I guarantee I will send 200 SEK every month to see a girl in Africa or Asia through school. I'm not rich, nor even middle class, but if I were to be really poor - how then could I help her? And what is the defenition of poor? If I can choose it, it means I already have the power to escape it. That's not poverty. Poverty is, as you so well put it, not being able too choose.