Genuine Poverty

I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thought He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

“And why does the appellation ‘poor man’ disturb you? Remember your nature – that you came into this world naked and naked you will leave it again. What is more destitute than a naked man? You have been called nothing that is derogatory, unless you make the terms used really applicable to yourself. Who was ever hauled to prison because he was poor? It is not being poor that is reprehensible but failing to bear poverty with nobility. Recall that the Lord, ‘being rich, became poor for our sakes.’” – Saint Basil of Caesarea

It’s interesting – people are afraid of the poor, to be poor, and for the poor. The impoverished “plague” the streets and are stigmatized as dirty, unwholesome, and dangerous; while we are dubbed with the stereotypes of unwillingness, ignorance, and intolerance. Moreover, the affluent vie for a perpetual future free from shame of paucity, and go to whit’s end in order to succeed at this venture. But this leaves us at the edge of antithetical truth as sympathy is not completely void from the former paradigms; rather, the urge to help the poor seems to be inherent in most all of us, Christian and secular alike.

So why the disparity? It’s as if these fits of compassion are fulfilled through donations and quazi-relational programs that seem to quench the appetite. Is this so terrible a route, though? I used to think so, as donations overseas seemed like a socially acceptable cop-out for those too afraid to fully engage with their neighboring community. However, it’s become apparent through Bethany’s involvement with Uganda via the Spilling Hope Project, as well as 2 Corinthians, that these acts are simply another means of spreading God’s grace. On a second level, another point of urgency is getting to know one’s immediate sphere of influence. Jesus was a traveler who catered to those within each city He was present. He enriched those who had never tasted love or glory. Are we not to do the same? Are we not to humble ourselves at the foot of the undignified, simply to share in the communion of life together?

From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

If you’ve sworn yourself to Christ, you’re truly no better than that man on the street. I forgot that last Friday. God forgive me.

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~ by Chris Kyle on June 27, 2010.

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