Poverty is a culture in which many people spend their whole lives. Poverty is a word with deep and complex meaning and I would challenge is a word that most people (including me) do not fully understand.
I believe that economic poverty and spiritual poverty often go hand in hand. People who suffer in economic poverty and do not know the Lord often find themselves making money their god. They are willing to risk a lifetime of imprisonment by stealing from others because they believe that money will finally bring them everything they have ever wanted. Or they believe that they will finally rise above the level of mere survival. But they are imprisoned in ways that they do not even realize. They are imprisoned mentally and spiritually by believing that they will somehow be different if they have money. They will somehow become someone else.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Centuries of people on this earth have suffered in economic poverty but have lived rich and bountiful spiritual lives, pouring themselves out for others as clear evidence that an empty wallet does not equal an empty heart. Think Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I certainly do not minimize the struggle of those in economic poverty around the world. You must be able to feed yourself in order to have the literal physical strength to help others. We have a human obligation to feed the world.
But I would challenge that we also have a human obligation to spiritually feed the world. To address the spirits of brokenness, loneliness, and desperation. What does this look like? It begins with getting out of your house and getting involved. Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen. Become a foster parent. Take the extra $20 you were going to use to order a pizza and go to the thrift shop to buy children’s clothes for a child you know is in need. Put together a Thanksgiving basket for a family that you know will struggle to feed their children this holiday season. Make cookies this Christmas for the neighbors in the surrounding houses in your neighborhood and attach a message with the good news of Jesus Christ.
As individuals we will not solve the economic or spiritual poverty of this world. But together we can make a difference. Thanks to Kathy for alerting me to Blog Action Day and thanks to Krista for her inspirational post.