Friday, August 19, 2011

The Delusion of Degradation (part 2)

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for,
forgotten by everybody,
I think that is a much greater hunger,
a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
~Mother Teresa

We are deceived greatly by our own judgement of the world and others. We put labels upon people as "poor" or "needy" because they don't have some of the same "luxuries" we have and yet their self value shows riches beyond measure... nor do they call themselves needy because the Lord has already provided them with everything that sustains life now and forevermore.

In "part 1" I said I would explain the title of this series, and this is what I intend to do by shedding a little light on human fallibility and where things first went wrong. We are deceived or delussioned as to what deems someone or something as part of a lower , impoverished, helpless class (This happens because our judgment is not the same as God's and we must not live by ours yet we do all of the time). What we must understand, ESPECIALLY as westerners, is that we don't always know what is best for someone else and money doesn't solve everything. As a matter of fact a lot of times it hurts things (for a great book on this you should read "Giving Wisely" by Jonathan Martin). But why then is it so easy for us to judge others and label them, because instinctively we all do it? We look at a "third world country" and think that because they don't have all of the material things we do that they are poor and need money to help and be satisfied. The funny thing is that we usually classify them as poor and the reality is, is that they are truly more rich in spirit than we are. They usually have happier and more satisfied lives than we do (granted I am not saying that there aren't places in great need of food and help because that would be foolish. But I am saying that a lot of the places we have judged as in need of our help, really only need us not to intervene because we can hurt the situation. Again read Jonathan Martin's book for more understanding). We must understand this point to move on because if we don't see who are really the poor, widowed, orphaned and oppressed through God's eyes, then we won't know who were are supposed to be helping.

Where then did our false perceptions come about and where did things go wrong? In the beginning we see that God created everything including man and woman, the first to be Adam and his wife Eve. In the garden called Eden (pleasure), they lived in perfect communion with God and each other. They were instructed that they could enjoy everything in the garden except for the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Why was the tree there if they couldn't eat from it, most people ask? Because without the option to not love God, they could never fully choose to love God. This is a whole different discussion though so let us not get off topic)

The tree of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil was one that was to give a knowledge that was never meant to be possessed by anyone but God. Only God was to be JUDGE between what was good and what was evil because only God in all of His perfect, just, pure existence could judge rightly. The moment man ate from that tree they gained the knowledge of what was good and what was evil but they did it in disobedience therefore tainting the knowledge itself. From this fallen place, man now believes they have the right to deem what is good and what is bad yet they are doing it through the blurry lens of fallible human error and sin. (This is the shortened version of what this all means)

Now we have man thinking they have the "right" to judge all things from a place of dishonor when only God was to judge from a throne of perfection being the creator of all things and therefore the only one who understands all things. In this false judgmental state we now look at things and let remarks leave our mouth such as, "they would be better off if they owned this, or lived this way," when we really don't know what is best because we don't see the whole layout of a persons life from beginning to end. We really don't know what is best for others which is why we are told not to judge. Even Jesus when He was on the earth said that during this time, "I have not come to this earth to judge it, but to save it." Later on in the story of existence we know He will come to judge from the place of honor being seated as royalty in heaven and being God incarnate... but if Jesus wasn't here to judge, why would we think we have the right to? We don't plane and simple.

Because of the "FALL" and man's existence now through original sin, we need to begin this journey through God's word and not our own understanding. We must start from a place of knowing we can't judge on our own who is poor, oppressed, needy, and orphaned because we can't see the full picture. So let us stop, and like Mother Teresa understand there is "greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." Reflect on these words and begin to remove the judgement of others and even ourselves as we begin to seek God about His righteous judgement of all things.

"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is
the most terrible poverty."
~Mother Teresa

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Delusion of Degradation (part 1)

Delusion; a false belief or opinion
Degradation; a decline to a lower condition, quality, or level

"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.
It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization,
when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundance animal life around them.
The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

I have been struck deep with the reality of social injustices such as poverty, oppression, and alienation. The word of God goes through and through about the poor, widowed, orphaned, neglected and oppressed and yet I have realized that I don't truly know what God says about such things. This has lead me to my most recent endeavor that I would like to ask you to journey with me through.

God is way too big for us to understand fully, but we can still know Him more and more as we go into the word and learn about His character. Recently I felt that I wanted to do something I have never done before. I have decided to pick a certain aspect of who God is and really begin to focus on that character trait as I read through the whole Bible, seeing what His whole word says about focused characteristics of God. For two weeks I asked the Lord what part of His character did He want me to understand more of first (since this is something I will continue to do my whole life). After patiently waiting the Lord began to break my heart for the poor, the oppressed, and the neglected.

I saw myself asking the same questions that I have heard from non-believers such as "why do bad things happen to good people," and "why doesn't God just break in and fix things Himself?" These are not bad questions to ask and I truly believe that I have some good answers for this, but I want to know more deeply what God really says to these questions and why oppression, poverty, and such things still exist.

I believe Dr. King was right when he said, "the curse of poverty has no justification in our age." It is time this and other injustices stop... but in order for this to happen we must understand why they started in the first place and how they are correctly dealt with according to God. Only through the JUSTICE of God are the INJUSTICES of the world going to end!

So begin this journey with me as I start in the beginning and travel through the entire Bible understanding God's heart for the poor, widowed, orphaned, oppressed, and understanding how God says we are to deal with such injustices. This is going to take some time, but I truly believe that by the end we will understand the heart of God more, and in doing so we will be able to come against the injustices of the world in a more precise and powerful manner.

This is "part 1" of many posts to come about what God reveals as we go through the word of God. There may be other posts here and there about separate revelations that come to me and I will also continually keep you updated on my life as our team leaves in 8 days to go plant a missional community in Ireland. But know that this topic, "The Delusion of Degradation," will continue on so please journey with me as God reveals wisdom and knowledge on this. Please also during this time leave comments and messages about what you discover as well as we go through the word of God together. (By the way, I will explain the title in "part 2" so continue to follow my blog)

Isaiah 1:16-17 "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless,
defend the orphan, Plead for the widow."