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Truly poor

"Humble yourselves before the Lord..." James 4.10

Jesus came proclaiming good news. Though he was God, he did not come as a condescending benefactor. He put aside his glory and declined the material resources at his disposal. He came as a poor man to poor people. Although he did not condemn others for being rich, he warned against the dangers of material riches and observed that it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven. And not because he was rich but because of the inevitability that those who possess wealth end up being possessed by it and find themselves incapable of putting their whole trust in God.

In Luke's Gospel, Jesus is recorded as saying to his disciples "Blessed are you poor..." but in Matthew's account of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount he expands on that statement, saying instead "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." Scholars have argues ever since over what nuanced meaning we are to read into Jesus' addition of "in spirit". I can only imagine that he is making the point that they are blessed who, rich or poor, realise that in God's eyes we are naked and sinful and in desperate need of what only he can provide: mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and the Holy Spirit. In that sense we are all poor and the sooner we recognise that, the sooner God can get to work in us.

All of that is not to deny that Jesus has a particular concern those who are missing our on their fair share of the material resources God has provided for our health and happiness. That this should be the case is bad enough. Yet the outrage is multiplied by what we now know about the impact our greed is having on the environment as well. So, for the sake of the poor and for the planet we all rely on for our physical survival, we need to get grips with the situation - not by levelling up but by sharing out!



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