Do Christians Really Need to Be Poor To Follow Christ?

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Luke 16:13 (ESV) Many of the heroes and Saints of Christianity are known for their intentional poverty. For some, like Mother Theresa and St. Francis, it was as serious as taking a vow. For others, such as George Mueller, they just kept refusing wealth. Most of us can recall the story of the Rich Young Man, where Jesus says, “sell all that you have… and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21) Because of all this, Christians often struggle and wonder, “Do Christians really need to be poor in order to follow Christ?” To answer this, we need to look at the purpose behind choosing to be poor. The Freedom to Serve Others We all have to make choices in life and prioritize our decisions. Sadly, the priority which usually rises to the top is the need to make money. While money is not the most important thing in the world, neither is oxygen, but you kinda need both to live. Because of this almost all of us, at one point or another, trade off our principles and youthful ideals to appease those writing our...

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Blessed are the Poor [as long as you keep them away from me!]

I could not believe this article when I read it. But it seemed legit and so I started writing this Two Cents piece. But then I realised that both the sources I had were from the same source which was called which sounded a little potentially dubious and so I did a typical ‘Name of site/Hoax’ search and saw the words  ‘Gawker’ and ‘Scam’ and so figured I had been caught and so deleted the whole thing with a sigh of relief that I had avoided sharing the story and then finding out I had gotten it wrong. But then something in me made me check myself and I did a google search for the original premise of the story and found that there actually were multiple sites reporting on it and so this ‘dreadful hoax’ does in fact seem to be a more dreadful truth. The article, ‘Outrage over Separate Doors for Rich and Poor in Manhattan High-Rise’ sums up the story like this, In an effort to secure tax breaks and other building allowances as part of New York City’s Inclusionary Housing Program, Extell Development Company has offered to set aside some 55 Affordable Housing units for low-income families inside the 274-unit luxury tower it is constructing in the Upper West Side. The “catch” being that 40 Riverside Boulevard will...

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Why Lie?

Why Do We Demand Greater Virtue of the Poor Than the Rich?

And Jesus said, “Give to everyone who begs from you, and expect nothing in return.  Unless they bought an XBox, then screw ‘em.” – Ramsey 2:16 The most prevalent argument against programs which combat poverty is that poor people deserve to be poor because they make bad decisions. Of all these so-called bad decisions, the one that is rising to the top is that poor people buy stuff they don’t deserve. Not just pundits and talk-show hosts, but even friends and family, who I normally consider reasonable, say stuff like, “What right have they to be on government assistance? They have a TV!” Where does this vitriol come from? Why do we demand saint-like virtue of the poor? A Double-Standard Which Shows Our Own Greed No one bats an eye when a rich person throws money away on obvious excesses and luxuries. No matter how extravagant someone lives, we just say “Well, they earned it. They can do whatever they want.” But that’s not the worst part, because the most harmful thing you can do with money is nothing at all. As the wealthy hoard their money, the economy grows anemic. Even today, this is one of the biggest reasons our economy is so slow. But again, we say nothing because our culture doesn’t base virtues on their own...

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When my Helping has Hurt – a shared post of Sarah Binos

  Sarah Binos is the Executive Director of the Common Ground church initiative and non-profit known as ‘Common Good’ – she wrote this article ‘4 Common giving mistakes I’ve made’ on the Common Good blog page and you should totally go and read the full article, but here are some excerpts which stood out for me.   Instead of giving you a blueprint for giving – because there isn’t one! – here are some of the mistakes I’ve made in the area of giving. Hopefully this will equip others not to do the same! Mistake #1 I haven’t prioritised building relationships enough as I try to live out Christ’s call to do justice My friend explained how much it would have meant if her donor had been more like a distant aunt – who checked in with her occasionally and saw her as a person with hopes and dreams as opposed to a project. Mistake #2 In my attempt to “fix things”, I’ve communicated that “I am the adult and you are the child” Instead of engaging, asking insightful questions and giving the person I hope to bless the space to process and think through a way forward, I present a quick solution with a whole lot of uninvited advice. This can communicate the idea that I’m wiser, and...

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The Moment Our Church Breaks Our Heart – Growing Up and Social Justice

There is a cost to following Christ. It is not something you typically hear in the usual evangelical advertisements. I am not talking about “being a Christian” per-se. I am talking about when a Christian gets to that point in their life where they see a need in the world, and they want to do something about it. It is a call of conviction where you want to go to battle to make the world a better place. The point when a Christian wants to change the status-quo, instead of live within it, they often find themselves suddenly alone. The False Promise of Institutional Idealism The great lie often told by mostly well-intentioned motivational speakers is that if you serve Christ you will be blessed. While this is true in many way, but the problem is that it creates the illusion that serving Christ or “doing the right thing” is met with immediate worldly reward. “Here comes an honorable man! Roll out the red carpet!” It sounds almost silly, but the truth is that many “do gooders” start out with an expectation that their good intentions will be greeted with warm reception. When we are children, we receive praise for doing “good” in our communities. Many churches use AWANA, a literal merit badge system for memorizing scripture and doing...

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How Apathy Creates Systems of Persecution

There is a disconnect, you could say a deep valley, between how the rich view their behavior and how the poor perceive their treatment. Those in poverty often feel like “the man” is working against them. The rich, on the other hand, feel they have nothing “against” the poor and there is nothing stopping them from working their way up the ladder. What’s going on? Often, this gap is explained by saying the poor are just making excuses, but the truth is that society really has made systems to persecute those in poverty. These systems seem so spiteful to those at their mercy, but really they are just systems which formed by those in power not paying attention. In order to repair them, we have to wake-up and act with purpose. The Cliff Effect The Cliff Effect is a phenomenon that occurs in varying degrees from state-to-state, but basically it is a system of persecution which punishes those in poverty for trying to work to improve their lives. See the video below for an explanation: Those We Don’t Help On Purpose, We Harm On Accident This is just one example of how we create systems of persecution when we aren’t paying attention. Our ideological, political, and religious dialog is so polarized and fantastic that we never see problems as...

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