Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Developing a Simple Life-Style No. 3 - Poverty and Wealth

Humble families live on the outskirts of La Paz, Bolivia
POVERTY AND WEALTH. We affirm that involuntary poverty is an offense against the goodness of God. It is related in the Bible to powerlessness, for the poor cannot protect themselves. God’s call to rulers is to use their power to defend the poor, not to exploit them.

The church must stand with God and the poor against injustice, suffering with them and call on rulers to fulfil their God appointed role. We have struggled to open our minds and hearts to the uncomfortable words of Jesus about wealth. “Beware of covetousness”, he said “and a life’s a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (Luke 12:15) We have listened to his warnings about the danger of riches. For wealth brings worry, vanity and false security, the oppression of the weak and indifference to the sufferings of the needy. It is so hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:23) and the greedy will be excluded from it. 

The kingdom is a free gift offer to all, but it is especially good news for the poor because they benefit most from the changes it brings. We believe that Jesus still calla some people (perhaps even us) to follow him in a lifestyle of total, voluntary poverty. He calls all his followers to an inner freedom from the seduction of riches for it is impossible to serve God and money and to sacrificial generosity to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share. (I Timothy 6:18).

Indeed, the motivation and model for Christian generosity are nothing less than the example of Jesus Christ himself, who, though rich, became poor that through his poverty we might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9) It was a costly, purposeful self-sacrifice. We mean to seek his grace to follow him. We resolve to get to know poor and oppressed people, to learn about issues of injustice from them, to seek to relieve their suffering, and to include them regularly in our prayers.

(This is part 3 of a series of 10 blog posts. Developing a Simple Life-Style was a conference with 85 evangelical leaders from 27 countries at High Leigh Conference Center, London, England March 17-21, 1980)

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