BECOME THE POOR

Over the next few days I will post one of the best articles I have read on the Gospel and the poor (which has huge implications for orphan care and adoption).

I’m not sure where it came from or who wrote it originally but I just listened to a sermon by Tim Keller (Blessed are the Poor) and some of this material comes up in it. My guess is someone else may have adapted it from that sermon. Either way it is a must read

A Gospel Self-Image and the Poor

The Bible tells us the Gospel, if you get it, does three things to you with regard to the poor. The Gospel is an agent in us BECOMING THE POOR, LOVING THE POOR, AND KNOWING THE POOR. 

BECOME THE POOR 

When the Gospel comes to you, it replaces a middle-class spirit with the spirit of the poor. That means at least four things: 

1. Acknowledge That You Are Needy. The middle-class spirit says: “If I live a good life then I will have something of value to present to God. If I give to the poor, show mercy and do justice I can present something to God that he will value. I can do it.” But the Gospel says: “No one is good, no not one.” Even our good deeds are filthy rags. They stink of self-righteousness. Because they have been done to feel superior to others and to get leverage with God so that He owes us a good life. They have absolutely no value to God. 

2. Acknowledge That You Are Powerless. The middle class spirit says: “Okay, if I have failed I will just pick myself up and try harder. I will turn over a new leaf. I may be down but I am not out. l’ll double my effort. Never say never, think positive, visualize success-I can do it. I will do it'” But the Gospel says: “Not only are you spiritually bankrupt with nothing of value to present to God but you are totally incapable of reversing the situation.” It is like a drowning man trying to pull himself out by his own hair. No, it is worse. It is like a dead man trying to dig himself out of the grave. The Bible says: “You are spiritually dead. Totaliy powerless to do anything that would merit God’s approval. 

3. Everything you have is a gift from God. The gospel calls us to discard the “rights mentality” prevalent in our culture today. This mentality common among the middle-class says that you have rights–you have worked hard to earn you money and possessions and you have the right to a life of comfort and the leisure time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. The gospel says that everything we have is a gift from our heavenly father and given to us as stewards. We give up all of our “rights.” 

4. Acknowledge That Your Only Hope Is A Poor Man. Trust in the King who became a poor man. He was born in a feed bin, in a cattle shed. At his dedication, his parents gave the smaiiest offering possible. He was raised in a poor family, in a poor community. All his life he was poor. “Faxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He entered Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, had his last meal in a borrowed room, and was buried in a borrowed grave. He died naked. He had little the world valued and the little he had was taken away. He was discarded, thrown away. And only because he did all that do you have any hope. Your only hope is a crucified poor man. If this offends you, you are middle class in spirit and you cannot be saved. You must become the poor.

Part 2 tommorrow…

“The social gospel has poisoned the church twice”

From Reformation 21:

Dr. Keller made the following provocative comment: ‘The social gospel has poisoned the church twice.’ The first time, of course, was when the social gospel was first introduced as a (theologically) liberal agenda that minimized the preaching of the gospel. But the social gospel is poisoning us again, Keller argued, because today evangelicals are so concerned about falling into the error of the old social gospel that we do not put nearly the emphasis that the Bible places on caring for the poor.

(HT: DashHouse)

“Enough is as good as a feast”

The Salwen family of Atlanta, Georgia, has decided to sell this house and give half the proceeds to charity.You may have seen this story of the wealthy family in Atlanta that is selling their $1.8 million mansion and giving half the proceeds to charity. It has brought up a lot of good (and frustrating) discussion about how much wealth is really needed and what we can do to make a difference.

This story and Todd’s recent post has challenged me think more seriously about what is “enough” for my family and what that means for us. I am made freshly aware that I am prone to move towards comfort instead of need and my soul needs these regular reminders and stirrings. I have also been thinking about this in light of God’s heart for His people and the poor. It is something that I keep running into in the Word and if there’s anyone in the world that ought to be concerned and broken over the injustice that exists it is God’s people made in His image and specifically called to action.

I can’t help but wonder what this would mean for the poor in our community and around the world if we were take this seriously? I mean, if we really got to a place where “enough” truly was a “feast” to us we would be free to make a difference in a radical way.

The good news to us who are in Christ is that He alone is enough! It has less to do with material things than I tend to think it does and our culture tells us it does. Wow. That is radical.

The richest of all is the one who knows that in Christ he has all the treasures and supplies he needs.