Sunday, December 29, 2013

Poverty and Power (Poverty of Spirit 4)

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

God is not opposed to the self-sufficient.  He does not hate those who rely on their own strength to make their lives what they are.  God has blessed them with a created world which he called “good” and set them in it to make their way.  They make their lives, they create their comfort, they establish all they are on their own and God blesses them.

But not all are able to establish themselves.  Some work all their lives and never escape suffering.  Some have established themselves, but through tragedy or disaster their well-made lives have crumbled.  Some are torn apart by others, seeking to establish themselves on the backs of those vulnerable to their power, leaving them nothing with which to establish themselves. There are some who have no choice but to recognize that they are poor and helpless.  They have done all they can, picked themselves up, stepped forward, only to find themselves fallen again. 

It is these whom God offers not just a casual blessing, but overwhelming support and real help. 

God is the judge who listens to the widow.  God is the healer who heals the bleeding woman whom the doctors cannot help.  God is the father who welcomes the starving prodigal home.  God is the one who feeds the hungry in the wilderness.  God is the one who grants the barren woman a child.

God is the power, the strength of the poor.  The self-sufficient do not need help, they are fine on their own.  But the sick who cannot be healed, the poor whose hunger left them weak, the sinner who can’t escape their shame, the immigrant who does not see a friendly face, the outcast who doesn't know why they can’t make it on their own, the mentally weak who cannot make decisions on their own… God is there to be their strength because they have no power.

What about those who do not do all they can to help themselves?  What if they are just dependent on God because they decided that it is better to rely on Him than on themselves?  These lazy religious fanatics, who think they can tempt God and get away without standing on their own, what does God give them?
He gives them all they need.

There are those who sell all they have and give it to the poor, at the command of God—God is there to provide for them.  There are those who surrender their well-paying jobs to help the weak for nothing—these fools are also supported by God.  The one who loves God’s ways, despite their family’s hatred and become homeless because they have no support, no help on earth—God is there for them.   Those who refuse judgment in God’s name and will not do violence even to those who do violence to them—God is there to support them.

This does not mean that they do not suffer.  They may hunger, they may be cold at times, they may be occasionally friendless, they may even die at the hand of their persecutors.  Yet, somehow, they know they can rely on God. 

The persecuted David, who faced death, was confident of God’s support.  “The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord… All the prosperous of the earth will eat and worship, all those who go down to the dust will bow before Him, even he who cannot keep his soul alive.”  Even when faced with death, even when one goes beyond death, God does not forget his promise of protection and life. 

In this is the resurrection.  The resurrection is not for those who are religious enough to prove their worth.  Rather, it is for those who suffered so much for good and for love that God determines that they must have a second chance on life.  Resurrection is for the hopeless suffering who deserve a life of comfort.  For those who have surrendered all comfort for the sake of Love.

God never forgets his promise to be the power of life for the poor.

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