Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chicago (2): Micah 6:8 - Poverty and Our Response

"There will always be poor people in the land." Deuteronomy 15:11a

I have on occasion heard this verse mentioned as a reality I should consider before I get too gung-ho about attempting to solve the world's poverty crisis. And, you know what, I believe this verse to be true to an extent, but I do not believe it to be an excuse to turn a blind eye. In fact, a quick glance at the words on either side of this sentence talk about the importance of giving generously (kind of funny how we purport verses to fit our leanings at times...I'm sure I'm guilty of it). I also cannot reconcile the reality that Jesus talks consistently about the poor among us.

Yet, I am still left with an overwhelming feeling. Where do I even begin?

There are three main roots of poverty:
  1. Tragedy
  2. Oppression/Injustice
  3. Consequences of Sin
And again, the church has the responses to poverty. Micah 6:8 provides the framework.
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Key phrases:
  • Act Justly
  • Love Mercy
  • Walk Humbly
What do people who have experienced tragedy need? They need mercy. They need the tenderhearted to come around them and care for their emotional needs as well as their physical needs. They need unselfish, unconditional compassion poured out on them and their family in their time of need. We cannot provide genuine compassion for a lot of people for an extended period of time...but by the grace of God working powerfully through us, his people. We can give mercy.

What can be given to a person who has experienced oppression and injustice whether intentionally or not? They need justice. They need someone who will speak on their behalf when they are unable to speak. They need someone to stand up and go against the systems or structures which perpetuate these injustices. They ultimately need the giver of justice (Psalm 9:16). Does God not pour out justice through his people? We can give justice.

What does someone entrenched in the consequences of their sin need? They need humility. And they need to see humility modeled. They need humble servants of Christ to walk beside them, to bend down and sincerely walk with them. They need modeled a humble walk with Christ. It is only through Christ that true redemption can take place (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). With Christ, we can model humility.

Too simplistic? Maybe. Is their truth here? I think so. How can we better respond to the realities around us?

I'd love to hear your thoughts, critiques, questions, and clarifications of this model.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Kyle, I just got back from Kate and Rob's wedding...I'm so happy and so tired all at once. So I'll keep it short to say... I LOVED this post. I think you did such a great job describing your thoughts...and I think I might copy it and send it to my mother if that's okay with you:) I've so enjoyed reading your blog, its incredibly encouraging to me. By the way, ran into Ben Taylor this weekend...and it was great! I forgot that you two have been on this urban journey together:) One last thing...I think Noel wrote something about this on his blog once... you can find it there if you haven't already read it...

Okay! not so short of a comment:)