02 November, 2011

The Poor

"The poor are the center of the Church.  But who are the poor?  At first we might think of people who are not like us:  people who live in slums, people who go to soup kitchens, people who sleep on the streets, people in prisons, mental hospitals, and nursing homes.  But the poor can be very close.  They can be in our own families, churches or workplaces.  Even closer, the poor can be ourselves, who feel unloved, rejected, ignored, or abused.

It is precisely when we see and experience poverty - whether far away, close by, or in our own hearts - that we need to become the Church; that is, hold hands as brothers and sisters, confess our own brokenness and need, forgive one another, heal one another's wounds, and gather around the table of Jesus for the breaking of the bread.   Thus, as the poor we recognise Jesus, who became  poor for us." 
~ Henri Nouwen

Poverty has nothing to do with wealth. 


Wess Stafford the president of Compassion says that the opposite of poverty is not wealth, the opposite of poverty is enough. 

You can have all the money in the world and still be poor. You can have nothing and be wealthy beyond compare.

I have met some incredibly powerful people who are playing a role. They pretend to be outgoing, that life is wonderful, that things are amazing - but behind their eyes there is pain. I have sat with some people who seemingly only have what is on their back and they are full of joy and laughter and contentment. I have sat by myself and felt peace and joy, I have sat with those who love me and felt totally alone. 

It is not until we can get beyond this idea that wealth is somehow associated with stuff or success or marriage or children - that we can begin to see that poverty and wealth lies in relationships between each other, in worship of God, in living a life outside of yourself. If we could get beyond the superficial and the external, if the Church could move beyond the need to play "perfect" and therefore shun whoever does not "conform" to this idea, then we could actually make strides to being the Church.

Until we can admit and sit with our own poverty, we will be ineffective to truly helping others or being open to how God would use us.

It is not a destination, but a continued journey. One we must make together, one we can only make when it stops being about us and starts being about Him. 

What did this quote bring to your mind?