Tag Archive: poor


As we continue to seek out A Carefree Attitude Towards Possessions through the lens of Ron Sider’s challenging book, ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger’ let me go back a paragraph to remind us where we are and then continue with words i hope you will wrestle with and share with your friends:

rich

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Matthew, Mark and Luke all recall the terrible warning: “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”(Luke 18.24, Mark 10.23, Matthew 19.23). The context of this saying shows why possessions are dangerous. Jesus spoke these words to His disciples immediately after the rich young man had decided to cling to his wealth rather than follow Jesus (Luke 18.18-23). Riches are dangerous because their seductive power very frequently persuades us to reject Jesus and His kingdom. Continue reading

rich

Continuing the passage i am sharing from the Ron Sider book, ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger’, i’ll back up one paragraph just to remind us where we were:

= = = = =

If there are poor people who need assistance, Jesus’ carefree disciple will help – even if that means selling possessions. People are vastly more important than property. “Laying up treasure in heaven” means exactly the same thing. “In Jewish literature, the good deeds of a religious person are often described as treasures stored up in heaven.” Continue reading

rich

i have just started reading this book by Ron Sider who we got to hang out with a little bit during our time at the Simple Way in Philly a couple of years ago. Recently he visited South Africa and i got to hear him speak and thought it was high time i got hold of this book which has influenced so many people.

This part i want to share is just from the Foreword and yet it already floored me – definitely not going to be an easy book to read i imagine, but suspecting it will be a life-transforming one. Continue reading

Nani sending off

So last night there was a game of football/soccer between Manchester United [soccer is one of my least supported sports but if i have ever supported a team it has been Manchester United… and then locally Kaizer Chiefs back in the day when Dr Khumalo played and i always back Bafana!] and Real Madrid in the Champion’s League. Real Madrid won 2-1 but of course there was “that red card incident” with Nani getting sent off…

i was out for the evening playing poker with some mates and so we missed the game, but it took me a minute on Facebook to find out what had happened – not that Real Madrid won or Manchester United lost but that there had been a “worst decision ever” and someone [or a really huge group of people from the sounds of it] “had been robbed” and so on…

i skimmed through one particular post with 30 plus comments in it and then wrote this Facebook status:

Imagine a world where people who cared that much about soccer/football cared that much about poor people…

i am still not quite sure why i did not cop more [or any, really] abuse for it – perhaps cos it was in the early hours of the morning when it was posted and most people missed it [maybe i should repost, hm?] because when i have posted questions about the absurd amounts of money soccer [or really most sports people] get paid, then people have come out blazing… i have never understood why so many of the people who have been so passionate about strongly disagreeing with me on my sports people salary opinion have been christians because i honestly cannot wrap my mind around how someone who reads and understands the Bible and following Jesus and the sheep and the goats story as one example can believe that it is okay for one person to receive $25 million while another person is allowed to die of malnutrition. i don’t think i’m judging anyone, i just cannot get my mind around that.

and not to say that people who are not christians should be okay with that, because i don’t think anyone should, but i do feel like Christ following people in particular [and yes, the distinction between christian and Christ following might be a first clue] should be outraged and upset at the completely ridiculous disparity between rich and poor [and yes, it is not confined to soccer – same with musicians, actors, politicians etc etc – soccer is just such an easy example]. to me it’s criminal. other people clearly think differently. i have just not ever had it adequately explained to me why.

the point with this particular quote though was not about people not being passionate about sport. the words “that much” are the key. i am simply expressing the desire to see people who are so passionate about sport [music, new year, latest Hollywood blockbuster movie] become that same amount of passionate about the poverty in our country, about treatment of women, about the insane levels of rape in our land [you would think something like “rape” merited more fervour than something like a sports match?]

and yes, it is a generalisation because there are definitely some people who are equally passionate about both, but i imagine if [just by browsing Facebook or Twitter after the game] every person who was above averagely passionate about the game last nite had the same amount of passion directed to even just one cause, person in need, situation… that our country would change overnight or within a month or year at least.

next year, there will be another Champion’s League trophy and quite probably a different team will win it. by then, this match will be forgotten. [Like Kony was within a week or two] Nobody will care any more. But they will care obsessively about the next match. And then the following year another Champion’s League will happen.

i find that sport and movies and books and music are amazing things to help me relax or get excited or spend time with mates or find a little escape in… and i think all of that is great. but get passionate, like i mean really passionate, foaming-at-the-mouth passionate about getting behind a cause, changing someone’s life, affecting the plight of the ‘least of these’, seeing someone rehabituated from prison, championing adoption or women’s rights, working towards reconciliation in the face of racism and so on… stuff to really put your life and energy and passion behind…

Imagine a world where people who cared that much about soccer/football cared that much about poor people…

my friend and bossman, Darin, shared some stuff on Saturday’s Simple Way Conversations day on the theme of stewarding your treasures [your money and things] well in the world we live in…

one really interesting thing he said which made me think was when he asked about the definition of poverty and said that often poverty has been defined as THE LACK OF STUFF? that’s true, right? i’m sure most of us would agree…

but then he turned it on it’s head – he looked at each of us in the room and said to us, what happened if after this meeting [bit of a parry-phrase happening here, don’t quota me by this] you got a couple of phone calls, telling you you had lost your job and there had been a fire at home which had burnt down the whole place including all your stuff and the bank called telling you that someone had gotten into your account and cleared out all your money and there is nothing you can do about it… and so within fifteen minutes of this meeting you had lost all your stuff..?

how long would it be before you had your next meal?

how long would it be before you found a place for you and your family to sleep for the night, or the next few weeks or months of nights?

how long before you found yourself a new job, whether back as a powerful executive in a company or serving coffee at the local Starbucks?

and the answer to each of those questions, and possibly some others, was not long at all…

so possibly the definition of POVERTY is not so much the LACK OF STUFF as it is the LACK OF FRIENDSHIP OR TOGETHERNESS

because that is how you would get your next meal, a place to stay, and your next job – through the people and network resources and connectivity you have…

certainly something to think about, especially when we try to solve POVERTY by simply GIVING PEOPLE STUFF… could it be there is another way?

to read some more about some difference between guilt and conviction, click here…

continuing with some further thorts from psalm 22

‘I will declare Your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor Him!
Revere Him, all you descendants of Israel! For He has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; He has not hidden His face from him but has listened to his cry for help.’ [verse 22-24]

‘The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise Him — may your hearts live forever!’ [verse 26]

this psalm serves as a reminder as to those who God seems to have special time and affection for – the afflicted one, the poor. this is backed up hugely by evidencing Jesus’ life in the gospels as He was constantly representing God’s heart for those in the background, the marginalised, by reaching out to the people of the day who were not considered worthy to spend time with – children, women, samaritans, lepers, drunkards and prostitutes, tax collectors… and powerfully vocalised in the parable of the sheep and goats which Jesus concludes with, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ [matthew 25.45]

reaching out to the ‘least of these’ is not an optional extra for Christ followers [who have been called to deny themselves, take up their cross daily and follow Him in luke 9.23] but an identifying sign of who we are. ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’ [james 1.27]

and then lastly, i love how this psalm ends:

‘…future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!’ [verse 30b-31]

this is the exact opposite to what is evidenced in judges 2.10 just after joshua dies: ‘After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD…’

yet in this psalm David is speaking of God’s name being pronounced and declared to a future generation that has not even been born yet. the question is begged of us, how will we continue the legacy of Jesus-following among present and future generations?

and on to psalm 14:

‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God!” [vs.1]

as Mr T’s B.A. Baracus from the A-Team would say, “I pity the fool!”

and that’s an apt combination of thoughts. and ‘pity’ has such strongly negative connotations where what i feel when i look at friends lives who do not know God and are going through stuff and trying to carry it all by themselves is totally a positive reaction of sadness and wishing-they-get-it’ness. even just the added effect of community when you are involved in a church or Christ-following community that understands a bit of what following Jesus is all about. to have to try and live life without that must be such a tightrope walk at times.

then the second part that this psalm gave to me was this:

‘You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.’ [vs. 6]

two sides to that – the scary question of whether ‘you evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor’ ever relates to me? does the way i live contribute to the plans of the poor being frustrated? and a bigger picture question of does the municipality or government where i live ever frustrate the plans of the poor and if so do i ever do anything about that? it’s been great being connected to the simple way where they have actively got involved where municipalities have created some really unfair to the poor and homeless rulings and even had a bunch of them changed [in partnership with other people] it is sometimes a lot easier to simply give a man a fish, or if we’re feeling generous even teach him to fish… but at some stage you have to ask the bigger question of who is polluting the pond and do we intend to do anything about that?

and the second part is comforting and speaks into the situation, that even when i [and my fellow man] are too lazy or confused or apathetic or too busy fighting about the how of it, that ‘the Lord is their refuge.’ God is on it. This shouldn’t mean that i mustn’t be. But it is still a comforting voice in the chaos of life. The poor and needy, the helpless and homeless, the naked and imprisoned and marginalised all have a place to go. and that place is a Person who Loves them very much.

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