This week my mind has been all over the place. And my heart. Wrestling with the practical implications of faith is not an easy task. But one place I keep returning to is that in the ministry of Jesus a major focus of His attention was on the poor. James would later make this observation after watching all of this play out: “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5). God sovereignly chooses to work in the world by beginning with the weak who are on the “outside,” not the powerful who are on the “inside.” The Kingdom is backwards.
The poor are not inherently more righteous than the rich. And there is no place in the Bible that teaches that poverty is a desirable state or that material things are evil. In fact wealth is viewed as a gift from God. The point is simply that, for His own glory, God has chosen to reveal His kingdom in the place where the world, in all of its pride, would least expect it. Among the foolish, the weak, the lowly, and the despised. The Kingdom is humble.
Sort of like when Jesus came the first time. Bethlehem. Shepherds. Manger. You know the story well, and we will tell it again soon.
It is strange to place the poor at the center of a strategy for expanding a kingdom, but it has been rather successful. The early church did not flee the urban centers, which were like cesspools back then. They found their niche there. When the church was able to live out its self-sacrificial love, it thrived. In the AD 300s, Emperor Julian complained that the “impious Galileans [Christians] support not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us.” Wow. Government charities were born.
As Christianity spread across the world, it was the urban poor at the center of the drama. Not much has changed. They say that by 2025, Africa will have replaced Europe and the USA as the center of Christianity. By 2050, Uganda alone is expected to have more Christians than the largest four or five European nations combined.
I want to listen to God over these 40 Days. May we come to know His heart more fully. May we come to live better in His backwards Kingdom. May we never stop proclaiming the Gospel…in word and in actions. Both find their own opposition in our modern world. But we must be faithful. Which is why my mind has been all over the place. Let’s wander together, shall we?