Saturday, September 27, 2008

make history: join poverty

My local cohort Jack recently posted an excellent point of view on the “making poverty history” trend (found here).

His basic gist: Jesus never commissioned us to rid the world of poverty. Instead, he encouraged us to join poverty.

I assume this is because not having readily available resources can be an excellent witness to those who do not know jesus. Not relying on our own means will demonstrate faith as well as loyalties.

My question is: what does joining poverty look like to those of us: in wealthy Western societies? With families with children? In the social club/church culture?

Are we to quit our jobs, sell our houses, and raise our babies in the dirt on the street corner?

Just questions.


Anonymous said...


Leanne said...

I keep forgetting to post my thoughts about this.

Real quick, I think a distinction needs to be made re. poverty.

I understand choosing poverty as a way to "live like Jesus" but I fear those who have the choice don't really grasp how RICH they truly are.

At any time, I would suspect that you and A or Miller and D could leave poverty behind. By your upbringing, your education and yes, your race, you guys are, by default, so much better off than those you may be living with.

That's not a judgment or condemnation, btw. Just an observation and one I think gets lost ALL the time when talking about living the "poverty" lifestyle.

Anyway, those are some of the things I kept thinking of telling you all weekend long.

They don't really answer the questions about "quitting our jobs, selling our houses and raising our babies in the dirt on the street corner"............or maybe they do.

Amanda said...

I've tried 2 or 3 times to leave a comment, but I just can't seem to get the words to make sense when I type them out. You know how dingy I can be! :) If you'll email your email address to me again ( maybe I can figure out how to word it better. I just don't want to take up a bunch of space on your comment section.

Agent B said...

Leanne - thanks.

It's hard to think of myself in "poverty". Especially these days with the house remodeling gig booming and learning all sorts of skills, etc.

But if I really could choose to get out of this life, I don't think I could choose a higher lifestyle. I don't know.

Amanda - email is on the profile page. Or just write anything here. We won't bite.

And all - hope this post doesn't come across like I've got this all figured out. My main attention these days are at christians preaching and receiving messages on financial and material prosperity and how opposed that is to jesus' actual life (choosing poverty)...whatever that is.

Anonymous said...

Jesus said "Blessed are the poor in Spirit." I think on some level we must remember that all we possess isn't ours. "For what do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as if you did not?" What I mean is,do we actively seek to associate ourselves with the poor?Are we serving them, giving to them? Do we see that truly we are poor too without God, if not materially, then certainly spiritually? I think it means living compassionately and sacrificially and putting a cap on all the desires that drive and control us. So much of what we have is superfluous, it isn't necessary, but we live as if it were. We live as if things will never be taken from us, but they might and inevitably, one day will. I think living humbly and reliant upon God brings us closer to the poor because at the very least the poor are emptied of self reliance and the illusion of control.

- just a random stranger passing through-

James said...

I think the easiest way that we can "join" poverty is by just getting to know people in our community who are in need. We need to move beyond giving out of our abundance to genuine love for our neighbor, but it is hard to love somebody we don't know. Once we get to know them we can see how to best address their needs. For example, I meet people who's only means of getting around was by public transportation. I found out that there was going to be a vote to repeal a tax that funded transit, and the result could be bus routes slashed. I thought about how this would affect the people I had meet; the old lady who would not be able to get to the grocery store, the young man who couldn't get to his job. I got evolved in the campaign to keep the tax, even though it was against my own self interest. I think this is how Christians should be political; find out what the needs are of the poor in your community and give them solidarity. Make their needs and goal your needs and goals.

I think Rev. King said it best: "On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."