True Riches: What the Poor Can Teach the Church About Real Wealth
What does “being poor” really mean? Who really has “true” riches?
We know Jesus addressed these questions in the Scriptures and we know the Church today is challenged with varying definitions of these terms. The way we, and by we I mean the Church, view true wealth or true poverty has a direct and vital impact on the way we approach impacting and developing the communities where are churches are based. In my opinion, if we miss this, we miss the true heartbeat of what it really means to restore people to who God originally designed them to be, what it means to be the Church. In my opinion, we can’t afford to miss this at all.
I was reminded of this when I met a homeless guy in Fort Worth named Michael. In the 30 seconds I spent with my new friend, his sheer presence shook me to the core and I felt like I had just talked with God. Above is Michael’s picture and below is a quick video capturing a tiny glimpse of who he really is. He gave me permission to take his picture and share his images and the this 9 second video.
I was only with him for a moment, but I was deeply moved by Michael’s deep sense of a joy that was so obviously rooted in his eternal assurance and earthly sense of spiritual identity. He may have been physically hungry, physically poor and currently homeless (so I gave some sunflower seeds to eat and a couple of bucks), but every breath he breathed and each word he spoke showed me that he was likely more spiritually rich than I will ever be. By that I mean that I could tell initially that he knew Jesus, which was indicated by his sign. When he walked up to me, his relationship with Christ was quickly validated by his radiant presence and the way he carried himself. His sun-scorched smile may have just as well been the smile of Jesus, and I felt like I had encountered the very presence of God, dressed in sweat-stained clothes and a body that had been through it all.
I realize that my story may sound fabricated, like when a movie that you see is pretty average and later you tell people that it changed your life, or when a pastor that you don’t trust tells a story that you can’t believe. Nonetheless, this 30 second encounter rocked my world to the core. It validated something I’ve been thinking about in regards to true riches and true wealth. It reminded me how those who are experiencing physical poverty, yet are spiritually wealthy beyond belief have much to teach the rest of us about true riches. Perhaps God was trying to show us to look around and help those in need with what we have, and to acknowledge that those we are helping have much to give in return. Maybe he was trying to teach us to lead our churches to places and people that can give us more than we can ever give them- the real meaning of true riches.
So what are your thoughts? Why do you think we get true wealth so mixed up? What can or should the church do to acknowledge what the “poor” have to teach those of us who are so “rich” in this world?
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