I can’t shake the fact that there’s a hole in my gospel … and that I need to seek out the poor.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (Luke 4:18-19, John 20:21).
So, my Lenten journey has me wrestling with a long-standing conviction: It’s not that I should care about the poor if I happen to bump into them. It’s that I am anointed by God to target my proclamation and emancipation to the poor and oppressed. It’s not up to them to find me … it’s up to me to obey the Lord, and get His ministry done.
But, I’m going to be honest here (and VERY open to follow-up comments). I know the poor are out there. But I don’t see them in my circles. Where are they, and where do I go to find them?
I live in Arizona. Releases from the U.S. Census Bureau have shown that Arizona has the 6th worst poverty rate in the nation. The percentage of people living below the poverty level in 2011 was around 20%, representing over 1.2 million Arizona residents.
20%? It doesn’t seem like that to me. But that’s because I don’t live in an among the poor. The reality is that poverty in Arizona is primarily found in the American Indian or Hispanic communities. The poverty rate on some native American reservations is as high as 47%. Nearly to 30% of the Hispanic population of Arizona lives in poverty … and that’s 30% of Arizona’s 6.4 million residents … 1,920,000 hispanics living in poverty.
I guess I could try really hard to find some easier-to-deal-with, culturally accessible poor people who are more like me. But I think that would be pathetic. I’m kidding myself to think that I can “fill the hole in my gospel” by remaining in my antiseptic, white, middle-class ghetto. If I’m to bless the poor, I’ve got to get out of my world, and venture into others.
I’m blessed that the Christ did this for me. I was the poor, blind, oppressed captive, and it was all my fault – the cause and affect of my sin. But Christ left the comforts of His community to enter mine. And it didn’t go well for Him, physically speaking. He has told us, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me,they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). I think that means …
You’re anointed to go. I send you like the Father sent me. They persecuted me…they’ll persecute you.
Who’s in? (They didn’t tell me about this at the Seeker Sensitive church … ) I’m not at all sure how I might do this, but it’s my Lent. Hmmm.