Let It Begin With Me
Since I have started this series of rants and wrestlings over what to do about extreme poverty, I have come up with answers that have questions and questions that lead to more questions. In the end, somehow I am back to me. (For those of you who do not know, the World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25 a day whereas Unicef defines it as living on less than $1. About 1 in 6 people fall into this category globally.)
There is this song that makes me want to sway like an ice skater when I hum it in my head. "Let...there...be peace...on earth...and let it begin....with me....Let....there...be peace...on earth...the peace that was meant....to be..." If it weren't such a hokey song, I may have attached the video, but the videos all seem much lamer than those phrases.
I wish that eradicating extreme poverty were as simple as microfinance and child sponsorship. I also wish that hurting marriages could be healed just with a therapist. The therapist helps, but not to get to the root of the problem. The root of problems such as this is too deep-it's sin. My marriage didn't begin to heal until Jesus kicked our butts. It is weird actually. Normal people have asked me which marriage therapist we went to; they wanted their phone number. They look at me sideways when I tell them Jesus was the only marriage counselor we had that made a difference.
I think poverty is maybe like that. Enabling someone to make a living or get an education is certainly important and worthy of time and money, but it can't be all of it. The strangest thing is that I have begun to wonder who is really poor: the one who has little or the one who never has enough?
When I talk to friends about how rich we are, they sometimes make fun of me. "Maybe you, but not me!" I used to think like that. Somewhere, this odd thing happened to my heart. I have had plenty with God and plenty without Him. I have struggled with Him and struggled without Him. Having God makes me rich. Sure, it is somewhat arrogant to speak like this when we started out talking about extreme poverty that I, admittedly, have never tasted, despite having grown up poor by American standards. Still, it is not the hollowness of belly or the lack of shelter that ever made me as insecure as the lack of purpose, of meaning, before He walked in.
Physical poverty is terrible, but so is spiritual poverty. We must remedy both or we are just feeding a problem. And we must remedy them both-their poverty and ours.
Have you noticed how many times in this post that I have apologized for admitting Jesus is the answer? It is odd...strange..weird... I don't know how to just let Him be. I have friends who are more involved in social justice and resolving poverty than I am, than any Christians I know. It is embarrassing to know that the world doesn't even think Jesus is in this equation. Not really. Not unless you are with HOPE International or Compassion or World Vision. The rest of the planet thinks we are delusional. I guess it doesn't much matter. I still know that Jesus is the best marriage counselor in the world, and I bet He can rescue the lost better than any search and rescue team, He can heal better than any hospital and He can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless better than any NGO.