Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Poor Will Always Be

One of the United Nations' Millennium Developmental Goals is to end global poverty by the year 2015. We're in 2011, and I don't think we're much closer to that than we were in 2000, in fact with the global recession, we've seen a surge in poverty around the globe, especially in industrialized nations. According to 2010's census, the number of those in poverty in the U.S. has risen two percentage points, and we had it good compared to most of the world.

And I've heard a lot of Christians and Christian charities embrace this same idea. "If we just do x, y, or z, we'll end poverty forever." It's a great idea, and I wish it could be so, but is it a biblical goal?

In Matthew 14:7, the Bible says, "The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time, but me you will not always have." In context, He is referring to the woman who washes His feet and Judas' suggestion that they could have sold the perfume and gave the money to the poor.

It's the phrase "will always" that bothers me. That kind of statement seems to suggest that poverty will never end. And if it will never end, then God must have a purpose for the poor. And I think biblically that idea holds up, since most of the Bible is built around the idea of helping the poor.

I want to be sure at this point to emphasize that I'm not advocating class differences or keeping others poor so that we can be rich because the poor are destined to exist. You'll find plenty of scriptures that will tell you where that kind of thought process will lead; here's one for example: Luke 16:20-31 .

What I am saying is that if your goal is to end poverty on Earth, you're chasing a pipe dream that will never, ever happen. Jesus said so. And if you're a Christian, you've missed the whole point of why we give up everything to help the poor. It's not so they can buy things they probably don't need, or so they can have a full belly. The point is to show them the path to Christ, so they can live richly in eternity. We help them because we love them, not because of a social agenda.

If you want to see an end to poverty, live for Christ and tell others about Him. Give yourself away, sharing the whole Gospel, which includes feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, and caring for widows and orphans. And in God's eternal kingdom, you and all those God's used you to bring with will see a world without poverty.

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