Monday, March 26, 2012

Closing out Lenten - 2 weeks to go: Thoughts on false poverty

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."

I can not help but wondering if we are perhaps even more twisted than those who were the focus of Jesus' critique in the above passage in Revelation 3. The Laodicean church saw themselves as rich and without need. Christ saw them as spiritually destitute and at the edge of an eternal rejection: to be spewed out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

In the United States, most of us live in relative riches compared to much of the world. Even those of us in poverty are doing better than a majority of the world. Yet, as a common crunch comes upon the middle class of America, driving it downwards, even those of us who are doing well are feeling the downward spiral, and are panicking. Still we remain the rich of this world. Could it be that we who are rich in comparison to the rest of the world are beginning to see ourselves as poor, and through our sense of poverty claiming ourselves to be spiritually rich?

The Laodiceans knew they were rich and attached that richness to their spirituality. Could it be that we think we are poor, when we are really rich, and that we are attaching our false sense of poverty to the belief that our poverty makes us spiritually rich? Are we actually one more step removed from spiritual richness than even the Laodiceans were?

Let us finish the days of Lent with a proper sense of our place in the world: Most of us in America and Western Europe are economically rich compared to much of the world, and most of history. Yet, we see ourselves as poor, because commercialism has sold us a silly picture of success based upon the greed of a 2 year old who hasn't grown out of the "mine" season of life.

Do we know that we are rich? Or do we pretend we are not? Do we assume that God has a special place in His heart for us because we have falsely assumed that we are "poor?"

As we all know, God does have a place in His heart for the poor. Let us evaluate ourselves properly. Let us not press close to the gates of the poor if we do not belong there, but make a place for those who really do belong there.

Perhaps our true place is that we are liars, who like Ananias and Sapphira pretend we are poor. Perhaps our true place is that we are Laodicaens who are rich in pocket, and poor in spirit. Perhaps we are like Solomon whose wisdom in this world brought him a most disastrous idolatrous condition.

This is Lent. It is the season of our introspection. We are found in our enemies, and in the greatest failures of the faith.


Webb Kline said...

I've pondered this of late. I have a driver who worked for me who had to leave because his diabetes got too bad to drive. He had little or no religious background, but is a really good guy. He was scared about what was going on with his body. He had just built a new house, didn't know how he was going to make it. In fact, didn't know if he was even going to live. The guy who drove that truck before him had left a copy of my book, "I could use a miracle right now" which I wrote back in '03, in the truck. He started reading it, and he and his wife began getting inspired to trust God in their desperation. It was unbelievable to watch what happening to them. One crazy miracle after the other--really uncanny miracles. He not only has been sustained in amazing ways, but he has been so blessed that he is now muck better off than he was while working for me, and I paid him very well.

He recalled to me some of the stories of my own miracles, which I had written about in the book. I thought about how desperate I was during those times from a worldly perspective, yet God provided in incredible ways--just as he was now doing for my driver.

THen I pondered the times I've experienced His providence since I have been in much better financial condition. I have witnessed the miraculous in these times as well. But, upon further contemplations, I realized that most of the miracles developed in the midst of trials we were going through in the development of the business. As long as I was able to handle things on my own it was pretty much a guarantee that I would not being calling on God to provide for me. It is humbling to have to admit this, but the truth nonetheless. If I don't absolutely see the need to call on God, I can become a pitiful, spiritual failure at the drop of a hat.

So, I'm kinda leaning toward the notion that perhaps the more spiritual we try to be the less spiritual we are. When we're poor, we're not spiritual, per se, we're freaking desperate and have nowhere else to turn but to God, whether we believe in Him or not. We all suffer from Laodecianism when everything's ok. It's a strange irony, but it does appear as if it is easier to be spiritual when we're desperate, but who among us wants to pay the price to achieve it? Even though I've experienced being there, and what an amazing wonderland it was, I really don't want to pay the price of admission to do it again. I miss it some times more than anything. God help my hypocrisy,.

Pastor Phil said...

Webb, That's an awesome story. I like the desperation factor point you are making. Not that I want to live there, just that I know it is true.

admin said...
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Earning a Prophet's Wage said...

The emporer's clothes...?

I don't find myself getting the "food for thought" thingy too often, but this post is at least good for that! I do not want to simply think and not make decisions or actions out of it. This is not a pratronizing statement. I would rather have not commented if that were all I had to do with it.

But I need time.

Sorry it took me this long to find these thoughts.

Thank you for posting...

Many blessings...

Anonymous said...

Religion is boring.
If religions were consistent, they'd renounce their tax breaks. You want to help the poor more? Pay your fair share of tax.

Jawed Ali said...
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