Friday, September 2, 2016

aiming at the wrong target

The Word for today:
James 2:1-13
In today's reading, James comments on our attitude towards rich and poor. God is no respecter of persons (1), scripture tells us. He esteems no person higher than another, and he esteems no one lower than another.
Stand in the Rain today will comment on this writer's long experience with "poverty programs" which do nothing to alleviate the real problem. Contrasting man's futile efforts with the anti-poverty program presented in scripture makes the writer wonder what would happen if we were to attack other problems with God's precepts instead of our own.
I worked for 14 years in a social services office. When you are in a social services office in downtown USA, you are in the belly of the beast. We worked hard every day--it was not an easy job by any means. It was dirty, discouraging, and it could even be dangerous.
We went to strategy meeting after strategy meeting, in a sincere attempt to help. But it wasn't until I read scripture that I found an anti-poverty program that works.
What we did there--what any government program does--is throw money at the problem.
But we missed! Because we aimed effort and dollars at poverty, which isn't the problem at all. Sin is the underlying problem, and we never aimed a single nickel at that.
Families get torn apart by the ravages of sin--by infidelity, adultery, divorce. These combine so that there is no money to buy the kids shoes.
Individual lives are shattered by sin--by drunkenness, drug addiction, pride, sloth, gluttony, gambling, you name it. These combine so that by the end of the month there is no food on the table.
But contemporary American culture doesn't deal in terms of sin. So our esteemed politicians and bureaucrats and academics keep on attacking the effect and not the cause. They attack it, of course, with your money. Which gets flushed down tenement toilets as sin passes by on parade, usually led by His Honor, the mayor.
We have to learn to see poverty scripturally. God knows what he's talking about when he talks about poverty because he was a poor person!
I was a social worker who came to find out that God's program for the poor would be vastly superior to our misguided efforts. I was a teacher who came to find out that scriptural precepts in education would work far better than the methods we're using.
Which leads me to wonder about another lifelong pursuit of mine--fishing! I believe there was something in John 21 about casting out the right side of the boat...
The Bible has expertise in every area, if only we would follow its precepts.
I mean, he caught enough fish to feed five thousand. So "from the right side" it shall be!
(1) see James 2:1/KJV and Acts 10:34/KJV

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