Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Just what is poverty?
After experiencing the CompassionArt cd and book I've had to do some readjusting in my thinking.
Recently I've concentrated a lot of energy into opposing those in my (adopted) country who have now come to power with an agenda that promises the most godless period in our history, despite outward appearances.
Let me make it clear that this re adjustment does not mean that I have changed my opinions about the new administration. I still disagree fundamentally with them on issues such as the sanctity of life, gay marriage, ethics in government (as the new administration promises new transparency and accountability with one hand, and then employs - or tries to employ - a series of people who, to put it kindly have had "tax issues") and even the standing in the world of the USA, apologizing limply to all and sundry.
These feelings remain.
But there are more important things to worry about. Things that require a considerable shift in the way I view even those I oppose.
The CompassionArt project has thrown up a number of good points, particularly in Craig Borlase's excellent book "The Art Of Compassion".
The point is made, most notably by Israel Houghton, that the poor around us are not just the visibly and physically poor. He elaborates: "...they're completely bankrupt. In spirit. So cocooned in their own world that they don't see what else is happening around them: all that matters is what's going on in their own headspace; all that counts is them. So there's a lot of poverty going down on Wall Street."
Truth is that those we oppose politically are often spiritually bankrupt too. Josh McDowell in his book "The New Tolerance" talks about the best approach to those that oppose us being to model true Christian love, which of course requires us to go back and discover what that really is, since we are not modeling it in a truly biblical fashion now.
And here's where it gets interesting.
Our own government - our own President even, needs that Christian love modeled to them, and, as has been said a lot over the last month or so, they need our prayers.
Some may say: "But the President is a born again Christian. What's the problem?"
Well when your President, who claims to be a Christian says this, you have to ask questions:
"I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people."
(quote directly from transcript of interview with Kathleen Falsani: Chicago Sun-Times. 2004)
So what's my point?
I believe that not only are there poverty-stricken people all the world who still need our support for food and medical care, but even our government are poverty-stricken and people like the President, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the new administration need our prayers and even more so they need a powerful revelation of who God is and how much He cares for them.
Although I agree with the sentiment behind Rush Limbaugh's (horribly misquoted) statement about his hopes for the new administration, I think we should be praying for all in it to receive just that dramatic, life-course-changing encounter with the real living God who died for them and has not given up on them, even if we have. Rather than Obama's Presidency failing, wouldn't it be even better if his whole life approach was transformed by an encounter with the one true God who gives him the courage to make a 180 about-turn on those policies most abhorrent to God himself. Wouldn't that be something?
I think that's something worth praying for, and a much more constructive use of my energy and time than just looking to run the new administration down.
There will be those who oppose me on both sides. Those who believe that the "enemy" must be opposed at all costs. To them I say that I will continue to oppose those policies that are against the will and purposes of God, but I will do it with the prayer that God will speak deeply into the hearts of those with influence.
To those who don't see what all the fuss is about anyway, and don't understand why I'm opposing the new administration anyway. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.
This for me has to be a personal approach, so I'm not going to expect to be taking everyone with me.
I will not make any apologies either though.