Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Four Failed Relationships of Poverty

In my last blog (apology given for the time gap between then and now), I ended the discussion with the four relationships in our lives which, which when broken, lead to poverty. Now I'll try and connect these specific relationship breaks and the type of poverty they lead to. Much of the skeleton for this idea is taken from Bryant Myers's "Walking with the Poor" but garnished with my own thoughts born out of experiences.

1. Man's broken relationship to God leads to poverty of spirit - When this relationship is not as God planned in the Bible, a person reaps spiritual. True, there are many "spiritual" people in the world today. There are also many ways and religions which attempt to help man find a way to God or spiritual satisfaction. From a Biblical perspective, however, every person is spiritually poor or, even worse, spiritually dead unless they have a faith-based relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Jesus said it best himself when talking to a teacher of the law, Nicodemus, and said, 'I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."

2. Man's broken relationship with his fellow man leads to poverty of community - When this relationship is not as God planned, a person reaps community poverty. We have seen from previous blogs that God has created us for not only Himself but also for community with one another. And His plan for community is not any ordinary community but community in the way that it was meant to be; where He is the chief and most glorious head and there is true koinonea fellowship and participation in the lives of our fellow beings. This is the basic reason that our efforts at community development with a Kingdom focus can be an effective tool in evangelism and discipleship. Our efforts at the ministry of reconciliation between brothers can be a beautiful picture of what God has done through His Son Jesus in reconcling us to Himself.

3. Man's borken relationship with creation leads to poverty of stewardship - When nature and creation are not viewed as having a special place in the heart of the Creator and simply viewed as existing for our exploitation without stewardship, a person reaps stewardship poverty. God is Creator and Owner of all. He has given us the ministry of stewardship of His creation. Genesis 2:15 says, "The Lord god took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Man was even given the charge to "rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." (Gen 1:28b). And our model/pattern for 'ruling' should be that of the King of Kings, the Creator and Owner of all that we were given rule over. Thus, our correct 'rule' should be a position of stewardship; not as owners, but faithful stewards of the true owner.

4. Man's broken relationship with himself leads to poverty of self - We all are created in the image of God. As C. S. Lewis says, "you have never met a mere mortal." The problem with the world today is that it tries to convince us that we are nobodies. We are not worthy of being loved so how can we love? We are not valued so how can we value ourselves and others? A part of the fall is that we are now living with marred identities. The world wants to tell us that we are no good, unloveable, worthless. God wants to tell us that we are His beloved and that He will do almost anything to seek us out and call us to Himself. In fact, He loves us so much that while we were yet sinners, He sent His beloved, only begotten Son to die for us (Rom 5:8).

So, if these four primary relationships and the broken state that can exist lead us to true poverty, what is the answer for us who want to be freed from poverty?

The one word is "reconciliation."

That is our next topic...

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