Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who Sinned?

Considering that Jesus counts it a miracle that the poor are hearing the Good News, we need to stop and consider what we think about poverty in our world. I think we've come to a point in our world where, like the Pharisee, we look at the poor man and immediately question, "Who sinned?"

What went wrong to bring a man to this place? What did this poor man do to cause his own poverty? What is he continuing to do? Or what is he not doing that might get him out of this predicament? If he works harder...or longer hours...or goes back to school...or finds a better job....or stops drinking...or stops smoking...or stops having children....or....the list goes on. We cringe when we hear this question being asked about the blind man; blindness is not necessarily caused by sin. Yet we willingly, and boldly, and insensitively ask this same question when it comes to the poor man.

Let's make this clear: poverty is not a sin. Nor is it, necessarily, the result of sin.

Man was not created to be fulfilled by this world, so it's not a sin when he finds that he is still in need. Yes, he may make poor choices. He may make poor investments. He may make poor decisions. And this can lead a man to be poor. But for millions of persons around the world, including right here in America, poverty is not the result of poor choices, poor investments, or poor choices. Poverty is a reality of a fallen world.

Poverty is more than being broke; it is a brokenness. It is an infirmity. It is a disability. And more often than not, poverty simply happens to man.

When we start to think about poverty in our world, we have to start with this brokenness. We look at the blind man and are troubled by his brokenness; and thankful for our sight. We look at the deaf man and are sensitive to his trouble, with a new sensitivity to the noises in our own world. We look at the lame man and feel empathy for him. We look at the blind, the lame, the broken, the bleeding, the infirm, the disabled, the cursed...and we're broken-hearted. We look at the child born with Down's Syndrome or some other genetic deformity and something inside of us breaks. It just breaks. How, God? How could this even be possible in a world like this? How, God? And Why?

We need to have the same reaction when we see poverty among us. We need to have the same broken-heartedness when we see a man whose infirmity is his emptiness. We need to look at the people who are doing all they can in the world and still don't have enough. We need to look at the people who could do more and still don't have enough. We need to look at people who don't have enough in this world, and we need to weep with them.

And we need to realize that the answer to this poverty is not that a man work harder and fill himself. No. We would never tell a blind man simply to open his eyes and see. We would not scream at a deaf man until he hears. We would not rip the crutches away from the lame and demand that they walk. We would not stand at the grave and force a dead man to live. We cannot stand on the edges of poverty and tell a man he must simply make more of himself. No. This is the crucible in which a miracle is formed. This is the place in which the power of Christ works.

Because of their great need, there is in the poor the potential for a miracle. There is a work that only God can do amidst poverty. And we must take poverty to Jesus and let Him do it. We must lead a poor man to Christ and beg for His mercy. Because there's something special about poverty. Something very special. It's why God counts the poor among the miracles.

More tomorrow on how we can truly begin to address poverty in our communities, and in our world.

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