“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” Mahatma Gandhi
“Third world Christians think that people like us read the Bible from the vantage point of our privilege and comfort and screen out those parts that threaten us. They tell us that the basic viewpoint of the biblical writers is that of victims, those who have been cruelly used by society, the poor and oppressed. They further tell us that they are the contemporary counterparts of those biblical victims, cruelly used by contemporary society, the poor and oppressed. . . . Is that what the Bible is really all about? Enough third world Christians are saying so . . . to impel us to explore the matter and see whether there might be a new word for us as well. . . .
The Bible says a great deal about ‘the poor.’ Sometimes it seems as though the message is so exclusively for the poor that the rest of us are either ignored or castigated . . . . The poor do get a lot of attention in the Bible, the nonpoor get a lot of attention in the church and usually end up running things. One reason for this is that the nonpoor have become the official interpreters of the Scriptures and have managed to take most of the sting out of passages dealing with the poor. Luke’s blunt talk about ‘the poor,’ we are instructed, must be interpreted in the light of Matthew’s fuller ‘poor in spirit,’ a classification to which we can all aspire, since it has none of the rude realities of ‘material poverty’ (lack of food, clothing, shelter, employment) attached to it. ‘Spiritual poverty’ in fact becomes a Christian virtue, and we are encouraged to affirm a life-style that puts no premium on goods and possessions but equally does not suggest that we need to get rid of them. It’s all a matter of attitude. . . . The more we press this kind of logic–as the church has done with consummate skill for centuries–the less threatening the Bible becomes. If people can be ‘poor in spirit’ whether materially wealthy or materially deprived, then we can concentrate on the ‘inner’ life and keep the gospel insulated from such aspects of ‘outer’ life as the nature of the economic order, the equitable sharing of the world’s goods, or the need to care for the indigent.” Robert McAfee Brown
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.”
Jesus in Luke 6:20
Moving From Head to Heart
*Do you hear about the poor in church? Do you think much about them? Do you know much about them? Are any of them your frieinds?
*Do you see God as an active, aggressive advocate for the poor?
*If your answer is “no” to these questions, might you/your church be “screening out” threatening parts of the Bible?
Abba, open my ears to hear the poor.
For More: Unexpected News by Robert McAfee Brown
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