I had a great conversation with my wife this morning. She likes to encourage me on what I’m reading. I just finished reading a book called The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision U.S. He talks about how there would actually be a humongous hole in the Gospel if you pulled out all the verses where Jesus talked about poverty, justice, the poor, and helping the orphans and widows. Stearns says that’s basically what Christians have done. We skip reading those chapters. We’re big into our “best life now” scenarios, and we’re big into asking how Jesus can help me in my life. We use the Bible to find out how we are going to be better and how we are going to excel in life with Jesus, and it just gets to the point where it becomes all about me.
But how does that relate to what Jesus said: that all the law can be summed up in love your neighbor as yourself? In our “best life now” scenarios, we lose that. We’re not loving our neighbor.
Stearns did a really good job in the book explaining what the issue of poverty is really like. Statistics on poverty can be overwhelming. When you read the statistics on poverty, you don’t want to help, because you don’t feel like you can help. When you read how bad these issues are across the world, you wonder what my one dollar, or my 50 cents, or my 5 bucks, or even my 500 bucks, can really do. Like Stearns says, statistics can be overwhelming, they can be deceiving, and they can be almost depressing. They can do the opposite of what you want to do, and that’s trying to figure out a way to alleviate poverty.
If you read the Bible, it’s all about loving your neighbor. It’s about helping those who do not have. People think the Bible’s a bunch of made-up stories that make this life sound great. But I think it’s Truth. I think it all points to Jesus, and it all points to what he came for, and not only did he come to die on the cross for us and save us from our sin, but essentially He came to fulfill us.
And part of that fulfillment is in helping the poor. I really truly believe that Jesus left it up to us to help with these issues in the world, because essentially that’s what He came for. He said I came to rescue. I came to take people out of bondage and create joy where there is no joy.
And then he goes on to talk about how we can do it, how we can alleviate poverty. He talks about the importance of the church. We’re supposed to be the pillar in our communities, or even the pillar in the world. I read about the early church, and what Jesus tried to do. This is why the church came together.
But in the Western church, we get in our own little bubble, create these mega-churches that have yoga classes, Starbucks in the lobby, all these things for our people. It drives me nuts! It’s like all they care about is their own congregation. I understand that there’s discipling, but we’re supposed to go into the communities and figure out who needs help and get together. We’re supposed to be a church as a whole, a church everywhere in the world, and we’re supposed to go into the world and find out who needs our help.
I wish that more people would learn to think this way. This is the real “best life now” scenario. I think that if people thought about how to help others, they would excel in their jobs and in life. They would work harder because they’d want to be more successful, knowing that their success can actually help.