The Gospel Is For The Poor

14 Dec

The other day I went with a group to a homeless shelter. I used to go to places like that and think I was bringing them something. As if they really need me to ladle soup for them, I mean, anyone can do that. I used to get some sense of crappy self-righteousness when I spent time with people who in my eyes were “less privileged.” Not to say I don’t still struggle with these stupid religious thoughts at times, but not as much since I have been wrecked by grace.

You see, it’s an odd paradox, because on one hand, I have nothing to give these people. Yet, I have the life of God inside of me. I can actually give people that. That’s incredible. That itself is grace. Yet, it’s not because I am in a more privileged place in life. I can only give because of what I have been given. These homeless men understand this more then I do. They are open and honest and completely relaying on God. They are thankful for a meal and a place to lay their heads. They are thankful for the friend that sit next to them, for a new day.

I am realizing, that the basis for Christianity is first realizing our complete and utter poverty in ourselves. It’s like AA- first step, admit you have a problem. The human race has a big problem. We die. We are a vapor. We are put on this earth by the grace of God, and every day after is an an act of grace. Life is an undeserved gift. We are born naked, and we die naked. There is nothing we can take with us. We can obtain all the pleasure, materiel possessions and power, but in the end it is all taken away. Nothing remains but our own impoverished souls. As Brennan Manning put it, “To be human is to be poor. Our impoverished spirit gives us pause before we decided to become tyrants to ourselves.

Yet, there is a flip side, and it’s astonishing. God, who has everything, who is everything good, gives all things. His gracious giving is so enormous, He even gives to those that think they already have everything, or to those who blame Him for having nothing. He is not bias. He gives and loves all equally. There is a receiving of Himself that is possible for anyone that simply believes that it is. Those who dare to believe that this is in fact not too good to be true, that God really wants to give us Himself, will get it. So growing in Christ is realizing more and more in Him, there is everything. This is not just about the physical, but it is not excluding it. The physical is a shadow of the spiritual.

Giving to the poor is so incredible, not because we are separate from them, but because we are them. Walking out life as a Christian means to give the world a glimpse of the grace that we have been given. We are not giving anyone anything we haven’t been given. It is grace we are alive.

It’s so hard to think like this because the world runs in a spirit of anti-grace. We get jealous when someone who has worked less gets the “same wage” as us, or better. Our sense of injustice prickles. We get angry when people don’t get what they “deserve.” The reality is, none of us “deserve” anything- yet we have all been given all things. We may have been given it, but it’s up to us whether to take it or not.

Whether we are born into a slum in Asia or a mansion in the West, we are all equally needy.

It’s so impossible to see that with our human eyes, but it is what God sees. We are all born and we all die. We are all immortal. The cross was the great equalizer. God gave everything so that everyone could have life. So he could break us free from this system of bondage and decay. So we are that crippled beggar invited to feast at the king’s table. This is not a position we earn.

We cannot earn anything but rust.

It seems like those who are physically rich because they have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, may have a harder time grasping this. The physical is a picture of the spiritual. Those who are independent and self reliant believe the lie there own hard work in earning their way to the top is enough. But it is all so meaningless.

I love spending time with people who realize their own poverty, because they need to rub off on me. We are all in need of grace, some of us just have a greater revelation of it. We can realize this in the middle of losing are job, or in the middle of great wealth. It seems like the first is easier, only because we are physical beings. Maybe that’s why Jesus talked so much about the poor.

It seems like the gospel is for the poor, because in reality, like Brennan said, to be a human being means to be poor.

But we can’t forget the flip side- we are beggars, but we are beggars that have been invited to feast with the King. By grace, He chooses to live in this broken building that is me, and because of that, all things are mine.

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2 Responses to “The Gospel Is For The Poor”

  1. steve r December 15, 2009 at 6:51 am #

    Brooke you have once again written something both beautiful and radical.

    Radical: Of or pertaining to the root; proceeding directly from the root. [1913 Webster]

    All who have ever received from Jesus share this common root. A revelation of their absolute poverty and of the riches of grace that is in Christ Jesus.

    “By grace, He chooses to live in this broken building that is me, and because of that, all things are mine.”

    2 Corinthians 8
    9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.

  2. Ed Easterlin July 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    I found the book of Isiah to be really interesting, but how about a piece on the Sabbath & how to sustain it hallowed? & do a 5-8 day reading plan on the ten commandments with verses from the old testament that back each one up to help remind us of our covenant with God.

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