Gospel to the poor

Poverty seems to me, as I reflect on it through scriptures and present day realities, an ill that needs to be removed, like any other ill, societal or individual.

Yesterday at church, I had a conversation with my mentor’s wife, who just returned from Congo. Teary-eyed, she spoke about the almost unbelievable poverty she saw while she was there. What struck her more was societal poverty and lack of basic infrastructure that in a place like Canada, we take for granted. Even if you are poor here, there is relative societal prosperity to cushion the effect of individual poverty.

Regardless of belief or non-belief, it is considered a noble thing to strive to end poverty – provide access to basic amenities, healthcare, education, financial inclusion and everything a healthy society needs.

If we consider societal poverty to be an evil that should end, why would individual poverty not be an evil, if it is not a deliberate choice, just as some like Late Mother Theresa have the grace to choose in order to serve God and humanity? Can societies also not choose to be in lack of the benefits “healthy” societies have? There are negative side effects of material prosperity, including godlessness and moral decadence but does that make material prosperity evil?

This morning, a portion of scriptures caught my attention again in Luke’s Gospel. “Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.”

Most people would agree that it is okay for the Messiah to come to make the blind see, the lame walk, cleanse lepers, restore the deaf’s hearing and raise the dead because those are undesirable conditions.

However, since the Messiah himself mentions poverty with those other ills He came to undo, could it be that material poverty is also a condition that needs to be corrected? Could the poor need the gospel as much as sinners need the gospel? What is the point of classifying poverty with disabilities if it is not? Why preach the gospel to a group of people if it is okay for them to remain in their condition? If they should not remain in their condition, what is the desired outcome of preaching the gospel to the poor? Could it be prosperity?

8 thoughts on “Gospel to the poor

  1. hmmm..now you've got me thinking..I believe the gospel should be preached to anyone regardless of status..I believe poverty is a very serious issue often spiritual I will like to think..I believe the word of God says in psalms, ever since David was born till he got old he has never seen the righteous forsaken. I do believe if we all seek God righteously regardless of our location or status, God is forever faithful to open the door to abundance, God wont let you wallow in poverty especially if you dont have the self pity mindset. Even the bible says, God wishes that above all, that we may prospers. The bible also says God has good plans to see us prosper not to suffer so as to bring us to an expected end. I do understand the situation in Africa. However, coming from Africa myself and not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I grew up watching my parents strive so hard until they got it right which took well over my childhood up until my late teens. At the end, with their dedication to God, they were able to succeed and didnt remain where they were over 20 something years ago somewhere in Ajegunle when I was born. Therefore, the word of God needs to be preach to the poor. Not the prosperity message, rather the understanding of God's word and how it should be use in day to day life.When you treasure the wrong things you dream the wrong dream- Kim Wettland.If you think without something (money e.t.c) you cant make it in life, then you will never get that something until you start focusing on the right thing which is God- Joyce Meyer

  2. Thank you for your comment, Unveilinggold.I think poverty is an anomaly in God's creation and that is why Christ added it to the list of ills he came to remove. I am convinced that poverty does not make us look like God. Jesus Christ became poor but that was part of the redemption plan, just like he took our sins upon Himself. Are we supposed to focus on money and wealth? Absolutely not. The love, the pursuit of money is the root of all evil, that is clear not only from scriptures but also from what we see around us today. We are meant to be like God – lacking nothing. Prosperity and abundance, I believe, should be our normal state just as health and well being should be our normal state. But focusing all our energies on it would be like concentrating on one's breathing when breathing is meant to happen without you trying to make it happen. Jesus asked us not to worry about what to eat, wear or have but seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness and then, those things which we would have been seeking, would be added to us. I believe strongly that having a lot of money does not mean that you are focusing on it. Your parents' example shows that God blesses the faithful. After all, this is a God about whom the scriptures say, He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.I just do not think He would lift them up if it is good for the poor and needy to be in squalor.Even Solomon did not ask for wealth, it was not his focus. But God blessed him with it, much more than he needed.I really appreciate your contribution. Thank you, unveilinggold. I like that name.

  3. Jesus said in Matt, Mark & John that "the poor you will always have with you." I do not believe he was meaning that it was something we had to accept and that there was nothing we could do about it. I believe, as you are highlighting Tolu, the poor was what he was wanting us to be aware of and focusing on. Jesus also said, "whatever you did for the least of these you did it for me."Unfortunately, in our capitalistic way of living the poor keep getting poorer and the rich keep getting richer. The divide seems to becoming greater and greater. I have been feeling the Lord's conviction in my own life for my lack of care for those less off than I. Our attitude towards the poor says a lot about the condition of our heart. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. I've been really challenged about this because it reflects poorly on my attitude towards the poor. Bless you Tolu for continuing that challenge.

  4. I agree with you Paul. I do not think Jesus was implying that we should put up with poverty. After all, He came to remove it.I believe that our engagement with poverty should not be a religious or patronizing relationship. It should be exactly like Jesus whose aim in becoming poor at all was to take the poor out of poverty and not to become forever poor himself as a way of identifying with the poor.One of my favorite portions of scriptures is in Psalm113:7,8:He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people. I like this scripture because it does not say God provides relief for the poor. He lifts them out of their condition. I guess that is the good news. I dare to say God does not like poverty at all. It is foreign to His nature and everything He reveals about Himself. He wants to do away with it and we who call ourselves Christ-followers should be at the forefront of raising the poor from the dust.Thank you for your contribution, Paul.

  5. I agree Tolu that it should not be a religious focus not should it be patronizing in any way. That simply minimizes their pain and reinforces to them that we are above and better than they! This is so not true.That's can be the hard fine line to walk, hey Tolu – engaging with the poor, trying to help eliminate it yet not look down on them, blame them or be patronizing.My small steps are to no longer buy from multinationals where I can but rather from local. I also downloaded an app called Free2Work which highlights most companies and informs you how they treat their workers. I do my best to no longer buy from companies who use sweatshops to make their products.It's not much but it's a small step in the right direction for me.

  6. Yes Paul, it is a very fine line to walk. I think in everything we do in this life, we walk a fine line anyway and that is one of the reasons I believe I need God – to help me walk the fine line I walk everyday. I think tuning in to God's love and compassion allows us to gracefully walk this fine line. God out of love became man in order to make man god-like, not to provide a temporary relief or to become one of us in our filth. He came to raise us up to seat with him – I love that. Can we engage with the poor like that?I believe that God honors even baby steps because He looks at our hearts, intentions and motives. And one of the ways we can incorporate compassion for the poor into our daily lives is to watch what and where we shop. Thankfully, there are many more companies today who do not just give to "the poor" but actually work towards raising them up and apps like the one you mentioned reall help do that. Again, I say we followers of Christ should be at the forefront of that.

  7. Money is a defense and money answers 'a host of things' (paraphrase mine)Money is a tool to be used, just like health is a tool to live and accomplish God's purpose for our lives. There's NOTHING Holy about poverty. I have tasted it even when I had no reason to and although God taught me vital lessons about it for I needed to understand it from the 'poor person's' point of view; it is certainly not something I desire, wish anyone or see as a pseudonym for piety.Neither do I support those who swing to the other extreme and use money only for themselves or for the oppression and destruction of others.Like you mentioned in one of your posts, it was God's idea to enrich Solomon. He volunteered wealth into Solomon's life. The treasures are laid up for us to use and leave behind.

  8. I think poverty is a curse otherwise Christ will not come to preach to the poor. It is far from desirable.I believe that wealth only magnifies/amplifies what is in us. Wealth in the hands of someone in the nature of the Holy Holy Holy God who is also called Love, will be used to Love. Wealth or power in the hands of a wicked person will result in multiplied wickedness and evil. Wealth or power in the hands of a righteous person will result in multiplied goodness. But poverty does have the capacity to severely limit impact.But here again, we walk a thin line because while wealth is good, it ought not to be the focus of our existence. In reality, there is no scarcity in a universe created by God, so focusing on trying to get it is a warped existence and leads to all forms of evil. I like your statement – "The treasures are laid up for us to use and leave behind." We do not own them but God "gives us richly all things to enjoy."Thank you, Maid of Heart.

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