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Day 14: “Rich in Faith”

Why does it seem that the rich of the world are favored over the poor? How does God feel about that? What did Jesus and His followers teach about being poor?

MEDITATION

“Listen, my beloved brothers. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him?” – James 2:5

REFLECTION

Jesus said that the blessing of the Kingdom of God is for the poor (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20). What does that even mean? Does it mean that God can only accept poor people into His Kingdom? That’s exactly what it means! Is that offensive to you?  Does the idea of God choosing those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom rub you the wrong way? It actually should, because it is counterintuitive to our thinking that the systems of this world have brainwashed us to believe. The systems of the world tell us the “rich, fixed and socialized” are the “chosen ones” and the elite and exceptional ones we all should aspire to. They have the education, the power, and the resources so they must be favored of “the gods.”  They must be “blessed” as they flaunt their successes, power and wealth. Since society worships them as the height of human achievement, surely God favors them as well!

Jesus and His followers radically and passionately presented a counterculture to this way of thinking. In fact, Jesus was always pushing people’s buttons on this topic and it infuriated those entrenched in the power class of society as well as those benefiting from those systems. The apostle Paul kept talking about weakness, and the foolish things of the world shaming the wise of the world and counting all worldly wealth and knowledge as excrement compared to knowing Christ.  Jesus’ brother James wrote stuff like the above text, encouraging God’s people to not favor the “higher class” folks. Later on in his letter, he wrote this to those rich in the world:

“Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you. Your wealth is rotting away, and your fine clothes are moth-eaten rags. Your gold and silver are corroded. The very wealth you were counting on will eat away your flesh like fire. This corroded treasure you have hoarded will testify against you on the day of judgment… …You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter…” (James 5:1–6)

Does this sound harsh? Yes, because it is. This is no joking matter to biblical writers and is a teaching we should press into even if it “offends us” and pushes against the individualism and consumeristic values embedded in our everyday lives that drive our fleeting pursuits of the world’s false versions of shalom.

You see, until by faith you realize you are bankrupt in every way without Christ, you cannot receive the riches of His love and grace. Until you realize you are broken beyond repair without Christ, you can’t receive the healing and abundant life He offers. Until you realize how marginalized you are from the kingdom without Christ, you cannot experience or be brought into it. It is the poor, broken and marginalized, not the fixed, rich and socialized, who inherit the kingdom, and the sooner we can come to that realization and count EVERYTHING as “worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ” (Philippians 3:8), the sooner we can really live with genuine love for God and others and experience the abundant life of the kingdom… NOW.  As the world’s riches and affluence (whether you have them or not) hold less and less sway on your confidence, joy, security or comfort,  you are ever-becoming “rich in faith” and being released to freely experience and manifest the true Shalom of the City to come where you have stored up REAL treasures that can never be compromised (Matthew 6:19-24).

ACTION

1. Quiet your heart in God’s presence and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the ways you are “rich in the world” but poor in faith and in the treasures of heaven. Are you willing to give up your world’s riches and count them as a loss for the sake of knowing Christ? What is the Holy Spirit showing you? Write it out.

2. What are ways you are “poor in the world” but rich in faith and love of God’s kingdom? How is God growing you in these areas? How can you encourage others in these areas of growth in your life?

3. Pray blessing for the materially poor in your community and city, that they would be rich in faith and truly show this world the ultimate treasure of Jesus and His kingdom. List out your felt needs and/or the needs of someone in our community who is struggling. Ask God to meet those needs and strengthen your faith and theirs. Ask the Lord to bring down unjust systems that oppress the poor and strip them of dignity.

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