Multiply Justice

Archive for the tag “prosperity”

Perpetuating poverty and hindering salvation

If we believe salvation is more than securing our destiny in the next life,

If we believe the gospel is for the whole person, not just his spirit,

If we believe redemption is of the entirety of a person’s being and circumstances, in this life as well as the next,

then what about the assertion that much of the “help” we give to people in chronic poverty actually keeps them trapped in poverty and dependence, rather than moving them toward self-sufficiency and prosperity?

And what about those who manipulate good-hearted people to escape the hard work of supporting themselves?

And what about those who don’t have to face their own brokenness because they can count on others to enable them with money, food, and housing?

If you claim a holistic theology of salvation, isn’t your “help that hurts” actually hindering that person’s salvation?

Is this what happened to the Anglo church in America?

Deuteronomy 8 speaks to America’s comfortable Christians by what the Lord said to Israel after bringing the people to the good land:

— God led the people through a great and terrifying wilderness experience, where they often were hungry. Yet he provided for them and brought them into a wealthy land. (vv.15,7-9)

— God’s purpose in the trial was to humble the people and test their character to find out whether they would obey his commands. (v.2)

— When the people arrived in the good land, they were encouraged to praise God and never say to themselves that they had achieved such wealth by their own strength. They were to remember the Lord is the one who gives them the power to succeed. (vv.10,17-18)

— But the Lord warned them to be careful: “Beware that in your plenty you do not become proud and forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands ….” (v.11,14)

— And the Lord explained what happens to the proud: if you refuse to obey the Lord your God, if you forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, you will certainly be destroyed. (vv.19-20)

— God’s people, then, were called to obey the Lord’s commands “by walking in his ways and fearing him.” (v.6)

The Anglo church in America became wealthy, by God’s grace. We began to believe we had done it in our own strength. We began to worship the gods of our Egypt and forgot the Lord who gave us the strength by which we succeeded. We focused so much on the love of God that we forgot his fearsome majesty and blazing holiness. We no longer have any idea what it means to walk in God’s ways and to fear him. And all the organizations we have built, all the programs we have designed — everything teeters on the brink of collapse.

Our preachers call for repentance, and certainly we need to repent, but we need more than that. We need to recover the healthy fear of God and learn once again how to walk in his ways. We need not just repentance but also to learn how to produce the fruit that goes with repentance. (Matthew 21.33-43)

We need a revival of making disciples who obey their Lord by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking in humility before Almighty God. The Lord is going to destroy everything else.

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