What are we waiting for?

Nowadays there is so much attention given to ‘social justice’ projects – particularly ones that are aimed at providing ‘material’ benefit to those who live in impoverished areas around the world.  While there is a great need and responsibility for sharing the earth’s God-given resources with the poor, online we have to acknowledge why we are compelled to do this.  Most people would quickly offer the response that ‘we are called to love one another’ and this couldn’t be farther from the truth!  Yes, order we are called to love one another as Jesus commanded us.  On the surface of many social justice initiatives this may be the motive…the problem is that many social justice activities are carried on without invoking the name of Jesus Christ as the sole reason for our valiant efforts to help others in need.

Jesus Christ also commanded something that is equally as important…to share the Gospel.  In fact, this is called the ‘Great Commission’ as he instructed the twelve apostles to spread the Good News to people all over the world.  When our social justice projects seek to deliver material goods to the poor we are carrying on only half of what we have been commanded to do.  We are commanded as well to share the ‘Good News’.  The interesting thing about this is that many missionaries to impoverished areas will tell you that it is precisely the poor who already have the ‘Good News’.  Their faith, in the midst of extreme poverty, is oftentimes so inspiring to those who have travelled from afar to help bring material things, etc., that the missionaries themselves are spiritually changed forever.  This begs the question…who is really better off?

Of course, no one should live in extreme poverty, and we should recognize that this is not how God planned it and we must do whatever we can to alleviate this.  But what if we are overlooking another type of poverty?  A type of poverty that Jesus was concerned about when he commanded the apostles to spread the Good News!  Unfortunately, while we are busy being involved in social justice projects we are not paying attention to the poverty in our own backyard – “spiritual poverty”.  Where are the initiatives to help with this poverty?

Remember, despite their lack of material goods and even the basic necessities of life, the faith exhibited by the poor, often transforms the lives of those missionaries who witness their love of God irrespective of the poor living conditions they must endure.  We must ask ourselves the question.  Do we think that material poverty is more important than spiritual poverty?  The proliferation of social justice initiatives over the last decade may indeed be indicative of our way of thinking as spiritual poverty seems to be at an all-time high without any real attention being given to it…or at least, nowhere near the attention given to relief of material poverty.

So what are we waiting for?  Maybe it’s easier to be a part of organizations who are involved in social justice campaigns dealing with poverty of material goods.  After all, when was the last time you were given the cold shoulder by someone you helped when you delivered a food basket, helped to build a house or a school?  While these are all good things to do, this is an unlikely reaction you will receive; in fact, you may receive great thanks and admiration for your efforts.  Helping to relieve spiritual poverty is another matter altogether because it calls us to share, in charity, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  In today’s world, this is often met with anger, contempt and sometimes various levels of abandonment.Not so easy to get involved with this kind of work!

Nevertheless, it is just as important, if not more, to be a part of initiatives or organizations that aim to address spiritual poverty.  Matthew 10:28 speaks to this…”do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body”.  It is clear that something important is being said here.  We are to fear that which can destroy the soul and by extension, we should be more fearful of ‘spiritual poverty’!  That being said, we need to re-examine our inclinations to ‘social justice mania’ that gives equal support to initiatives and organizations aiming to improve ‘spiritual poverty’ in our own backyard. After all, Jesus commanded this!

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