Okay. It’s catch up time. First, I know it’s SUPER late… but I’d like to say I appreciated what Kacie said about Chapter 1, discussing WHY Jesus came…
And… they do! But the thing is, I think Jesus came to save sinners and reconcile the world to Himself. That was His purpose, and thus it is the purpose of the Church and the purpose of every believer in the Church – to call all men to Christ.
I think the purpose of the church is to participate with Christ in drawing all men back into relationship with God. Our love for those around us drives us to care for suffering as we live out this mission.
I absolutely agree and I really think that the authors would agree as well. I also agree with her statements that God being angry with Israel because they neglected the poor is not the entire story. Neglecting the poor is a symptom of neglecting a right relationship with God. I think the important part, and what I thought that they were trying to point out, is that the fact that God chose to name it specifically means it matters to him – a lot. Not more than salvation. Not more than souls. Of course, we need to remember that. But the focus of this book is on the poor, so I understand their emphasis on it. [She also posted a great Piper video that you might want to watch!]
Also, I wanted to mention that in our group discussions over here I was glad that Scott had taken time to look up the word “poor” in lexicons to find out what kind of poor the Scriptures they quoted were referring to. Did it just mean “poor in Spirit?” No. It really meant materially poor.
Now on to Chapter 2. How do you define poverty? Most people think first, and maybe only, about the material aspects of poverty. But there’s more to it. The framework that the authors take us to is a relational one. They pull from the work of Bryant Myers, a Christian development thinker, who focuses on the relational nature of the Triune God and that when he created us in His image, he made us as relational beings as well.
Before the fall, God established four foundational relationships for each person: a relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation. These relationships are the building blocks for all of life. When they are functioning properly, humans experience the fullness of life that God intended because we are being what God created us to be. In particular for our purposes, when these relationships are functioning properly, people are able to fulfill their callings glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of their work.
The problems relating to poverty stem from these four basic relational areas and we ALL suffer from poverty in some of these areas that play out as “poverty of spiritual intimacy, a poverty of being, a poverty of community, and a poverty of stewardship.”
I really really like what he said here:
Every minute since the fall, each human being is the proverbial “square peg in a round hole.” We don’t fit right, because we were shaped for something else.
For some people the brokenness in these foundational relationships results in material poverty…
[and later on…]
The fall really happened, and it is wreaking havoc in all of our lives. We are all broken, just in different ways.
We were made for a perfect relationship with the Father, and with each other, with the world, and with ourselves. And in order to be effective at alleviating any of the poverty of any of the types in the world, we must recognize our own brokenness and our own need for Jesus, otherwise we’re just going to make it all worse.
In the end of the chapter the authors remind us that while we all do face some type of poverty there is something unique about the materially poor, something God asks the rest of us to step into and help to change.
I feel like I’m just summarizing here and that there’s a lot of my own thoughts that I don’t have time to say because I really want you to know what the books says. So putting the book down… For a list of reasons, this all gets very personal to me. A few of my friends here got together tonight to talk about chapter 2 and (what we’ve read so far of) chapter 3. As I talked about it, I had to work not to cry. I think it is so important for us to not just look at the poor and think, “Well, if they would get off their butts and get a job their lives would be better.” or “Well, if they hadn’t made such poor choices with their lives then they wouldn’t be in this mess…” There’s always more to the story than we see… And maybe some people are lazy and, yes, a lot of people have made poor choices… But what if that’s NOT the case? And what if it is? What if we take time to get to know people? To step into the messes of their lives and see what the story is? And to love them… NO MATTER WHAT – like Jesus did for us. And what if we share with them how important Jesus has been to our stories? And what if we stick around to show them how Jesus wants to be a part of their stories too? I mean, either we do that… Or we give them a handout and check “help the poor” off our “To Do List”… Or we write them off as hopeless… I’m pretty sure the latter two aren’t going to bring any sort of restoration… And that’s what Christians are called to, right? So I guess we better get ready to get messy…
And that’s all the rambling I have for tonight. I hope it makes sense. It’s late and I’m tired, but I was determined to get this posted. I’m guessing I won’t make my goal of Chapter 3 by Wednesday. Thursday. Thursday is the new goal. ;)
There’s a lot more I would like to talk about but this is a blog post, not a book. I’m hoping my friends will talk about the parts I didn’t get to. So, if you want more [read the book… and/or] click around to read other people’s reactions, thoughts, insights… Anissa @ Oasis, Brittany @ His grace displayed, Jon @ Hands Wide Open, Kacie @ The Well Thought-Out Life, and Christine (and Scott) @ We Are His Hands.