- Today, what would you celebrate today about your missional community?
- Today, what would you confess or lament about your missional community?
- Today, what are you hopes for your missional community?
Scripture: Deuteronomy 15:7-11
Simple Prayer: Jesus, you identify with the poor and we don’t want to miss you. Help us to be aware of our own poverty. Help us to be present with and open handed toward the poor among us and attentive to you.
The Poor: Shalom is about being in a right relationship with God, others, ourselves, and creation. Poverty, rightly understood, is about shalom being disturbed. Anytime these relationships are not right, anytime they are broken, we are experiencing poverty. The most obvious form of poverty, the form that is easiest to speak of, is material poverty. We notice it when things like food, shelter, or clothing are missing. However, Jesus spoke of spiritual poverty. Many of us are familiar with loneliness, which is relational poverty. Illness is also a form of poverty – it is a lack of health. Poverty comes in many forms. Apart from God and the fellowship of believers, we are impoverished! As a result of the fall, each of us feels the effects of some form of poverty.
Often, one form of poverty leads to another. For example, it is well documented that children in single parent homes are more likely to live below the poverty line. The relational poverty often associated with single parenting is closely tied to the material poverty. Mental illness, a form of personal poverty, often leaves people relationally impoverished, cut off from friends and family, isolated. Sin, of course, is a direct break in our relationship with God. As the Bible says, “All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Adam and Eve discovered in the garden that when our relationship with God is impoverished, it touches everything? Have you ever thought through how your own sins may have resulted in poverty?
But there is good news! Jesus came to be save sinners. He started by being with them. And Jesus closely identifies with the poor. There’s an amazing opportunity for us anytime we recognize poverty. In Matthew 25, Jesus promised to be present with the poor. He identifies with the poor so closely that he taught his followers, “when you do it to” (when you feed, clothe, visit, comfort) “the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” In Jesus, God came to be with the poor and the sinners!
So of course, if we are to live like Jesus, it is important to be with sinners and the poor. If we do, we’ll be attending to the very presence of Jesus Christ. We’ll find him there! And often, when we do, we can participate with him in his work of making things new, of restoring things to right-relationship.
So today, let us remember those who suffer from a poverty of creation – who have reduced access to adequate food, clothing, shelter, dignifying employment, education, healthcare, transportation, and financial capital,. Today, let us remember that God invites us to live with open-handed generosity and to seek justice for the poor.
Today, let us remember those who suffer from poverty of relationship, who are isolated, alone, unsupported, forgotten, vulnerable, neglected, or abused. Today, let us remember God invites us to facilitate relationally healthy communities and to pray for and work for reconciliation of broken relationships.
Today, let us remember those who suffer from poverty of self, who carry shame and guilt, as well as those who suffer from addiction, mental illness, and spiritual oppression. Today, let us remember that God invites us into ministries of forgiveness, healing, and deliverance.
Today, let us remember that all of these forms of poverty stem from a poverty of spirit, that human beings suffer separation from God due to sin, leaving people helpless and harassed, like sheep without a shepherd, lost. Let us remember that many live with no knowledge or sense of access to fellowship with God and God’s people. Let us remember that in the gospels, we see Jesus Christ intervening to reveal God to people, drawing them to himself and into God’s family, taking action to address and deliver people from every evil that left people lost, broken, and impoverished. Let us remember and believe Jesus is still at work and is inviting us into this work with him. (Deuteronomy 15:10-11, Zechariah 7:10, Matthew 5:1-12, Matthew 25:31-46, John 3:16-17, James 1:27)
Today, let us remember our own poverty and let us look for Jesus who is present with the poor!
Reflection and Practice:
- Is the idea of thinking about poverty in multiple dimensions new to you? What about the idea that when you are being present with someone who is impoverished in anyway, that you actually being present with Jesus?
- What forms of poverty are you most familiar with personally?
- How has Your missional community helped you to be present with the poor? How has it hindered?
- Is there anything you need to do in response? When and how will you do it?