"Tis the reason for the season" or so it's been said. Do we have reason to celebrate? Of course, but some are not celebrating the season for the right reason or at least not celebrating like most of us do.
Who and what am I writing about?
Wilma Earles came into my office today and we talked. We talked about people and their needs. She said something interesting, something I already knew, but was reinforced by her saying it. She said, "There's a difference between being poor and being in poverty." She's right. There is not a week goes by, in which we will have several people who come to the church for help (gas money, utilty help, etc.) I'm sure I speak for other churches in our community as well.
The Scripture also makes the distinction between being poor and poverty. A person can be poor for a number of resons: lack of money or resources, a life-changing devastation such as a natural disaster or even an economic disaster, such as the loss of a job, or even the loss of the principle wage-earner. A person or family, which is poor, can still get by through their resources and the help of others. In many ways, they can overcome whatever is lacking which causes the condition of poorness. I've seen churches over the years come to the aid of people who undergo such disasters.
However, poverty is different. It is a state of mind. It is as the Hebrew word in the OT says, an oppression, which may not only be lifelong, but perpetuated throughout the generations. It becomes a lifestyle and an endless cycle for survival.
For this reason, God stated through Moses in Deuteronomy 15:4 "...there shall be no poor among you..." This is found in the context of the remission of debt every seven years among the Israelites. This guaranteed poverty would not be perpetuated or generated. Were there "poor" people in this generation? Of course, but they could still manage their lives economically and financially.
But didn't Jesus say, "For the poor you have with you always; but you do not always have Me." (Matthew 26:11). Yes, but the context indicates a 'local' issue. Why we justify poorness (and poverty) as an "eternal" state is not what Jesus is saying. Just as He is not saying He will disappear after He rises from the dead..."but you do not always have Me"! Did not the disciples have Jesus with them all the time, even after He left earth?
So, what was Jesus saying?
On this planet we have enough resources to feed every person and clothe every person on earth. Why is it not happening? Let's look at Deuteronomy 15:4 and following again: "....there shall be no poor among you, since the LORD will bless you in the land....if only you listen obediently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today." Jesus knew this. he knew the selfishness and greed of men. He knew the ways in which we separate ourselves socio-economically from others. This is why He said what He said in Matthew 26. Yet, the book of Acts states this of the early church, "And all those who had believed were TOGETHER, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were SHARING THEM WIHT ALL, AS ANYONE MIGHT HAVE NEED."
Did you get this? Let me repeat, but in a different way. In this community of Dublin, we have enough resources to feed every person, clothe every person, put enough gas in a person's vehicle, and help with various other needs.
What does all this have to do with celebrating? Have you not been blessed?
I'm not advocating, nor does the Scripture imply that you sell EVERYTHING you have (unless God directs you to do that) to help those in poverty in our community. What I am advocating is that it is time for us to do something about this situation.
First, we need education (on both sides). For those of us who are fortunate economically and other ways, we need to be educated on how to communicate, relate, and help those who are in need. Also, those who are in poverty, need to be educated regarding spiritual principles of life management including financial management, child rearing, and a host of other training elements.
Second, we need communicaton. As you notice in the 2nd chapter of Acts, they were TOGETHER. We have to be together to make this work. Look for upcoming training and opportunites to end the poverty in Dublin, Texas.
Think about this. When poverty ends, crime goes down. When poverty ends, trust goes up.
Is it going to take time? Yes! Is it going to be worth it? You decide.
I look out on our community and see poverty. I see it first hand. I believe God wants us by His power to end it. I want our land to be blessed again. Instead of us pointing fingers and trying to lay blame, let's pull together in love and reach out across the socio-economic barriers.
Let the Celebration begin....