Don't just watch and agree
The message of Christ asks far more of us than this. **
Date: 1/7/2021 2:51:35 AM ( 49 d ) ... viewed 194 times
Jesus didn’t merely give to the poor, He joined them.
This is what led Claiborne to found The Simple Way: A tension between people maintaining their own comfortable social status while therapeutically giving to the poor, and the life and teachings of Christ. So Claiborne did just that, he joined the poor. He lived among them. He loved them and was loved by them.
And if I’m honest, this is a really scary thought for me to think: That Christ demands that I give up my social standing in order to follow Him. When I probe the depths of my heart, it becomes clear that things like status, car, home, and friends are idols on a very high pedestal because of my resistance to relinquish them for Christ. My dreams are not His dreams, in other words, and that’s a scary thing. Am I longing for the kingdom, or am I longing for my own idea of what a good system is? Am I longing for visible, tangible things like a wife and a comfortable, well-funded life, or do I trust God that He both knows and will give me the desires of my heart in the fullness of His kingdom?
I have quoted David Bentley Hart in a previous Systems post, but it’s worth repeating. In his article Christ’s Rabble, Hart builds an argument that all of Jesus’ teaching is polarizing and in-or-out language, leaving little room for in-between living.
“Christ condemned not only an unhealthy preoccupation with riches but the getting and keeping of riches as such. The most obvious citation from all three synoptic Gospels would be the story of the rich young ruler who could not bring himself to part with his fortune for the sake of the Kingdom, and of Christ’s astonishing remark about camels passing through needles’ eyes more easily than rich men through the Kingdom’s gate. As for the question the disciples then put to Christ, it should probably be translated not as “Who then can be saved?” or “Can anyone be saved?” but rather “Then can any [of them, the rich] be saved?” To which the sobering reply is that it is humanly impossible, but that by divine power even a rich man might be spared.”
Hart proceeds to list several more passages in which God proclaims good news to the poor, but scary woes to the rich. And let me remind you, if you’re reading this on a phone or laptop, you are ‘the rich’.
I have a friend who is an atheist and has told me in the past that he’s a ‘pretty good person’ because he gives to the homeless whenever he passes them begging on the sidewalk. What I’ve realized is that the message of Christ asks far more of us than this. It asks us not to hand out spare change to those beneath us on the caste system, thus perpetuating their situation of dependence and ours of Good Samaritans handing out alms, but to join them. To do life, not with those of the same social ranking as us, or in the same socio-economic class as us, but with those all across the spectrum.
Jesus didn’t just give handouts to the poor, but He broke bread with them. He made friends with them. And even He, Himself did not have a home or a place to lay His head. He didn’t just toss medicine to the lepers, or even heal them from a distance; He touched the untouchable.
Think about it: What good do handouts do in light of affecting systemic change? Are you helping to overhaul the system of poverty by tossing a five-spot into the cup of a beggar, or are you merely perpetuating the very system you may think you’re healing? It’s a microcosm of rich nations doing more damage than good by giving handouts to poorer, needy third-world countries who are not then able to themselves.
Now, with all that said, it may be scary to consider abandoning all that you have and all that you cling to for comfort and security. And I myself am still wrestling with where the balance is between preaching a ‘poverty gospel’ and obeying God. That’s why I always refrain from giving specific imperatives and instead let you in on what I’m mulling over in my mind. So for now, I hope this gives you some food for thought, and more than simply thinking about them, I want to hear your thoughts! I want to know what you think about this sliding scale of systemic poverty and the uncomfortable teachings of Christ.
Until then, we pray for the equalizing power of a just King: Maranatha, come swiftly, Lord Jesus.
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