There are times when the Lord, being the mysterious and grand lover that He is, will shine the light of revelation into our hearts. These moments are most beautiful to me, to have received some understanding of the heart of the King.
Yet, as awakening as they can be, they are also piercing, able to transform the deepest parts of my being, to change the way I see. Even to change the way I live. We are not dealing with a quiet God and, most certainly, not a complacent God.
Working at Compassion has brought a concern for the poor more deeply into my life. Poverty is no longer some distant thought to me. It’s not a trip I can reflect on or even a verse I can read. My daily life, for eight-plus hours a day, steeps within it, within the knowledge and awareness of poverty.
Recently, Dr. Scott Todd, our Senior Ministry Advisor, spoke to us at chapel. It was a time when the Lord broke through in revelation for me.
First of all, some background on Scott. He helps define and develop our philosophy on child development and poverty and how we work to combat it, which affects our communications and program design and how they work together. He also coordinates our global advocacy efforts about the importance of children in poverty to the worldwide church. He’s a busy guy — one who the Lord has entrusted much to.
So, back to what I was saying: He presented a powerful message that left me teary-eyed and deeply convicted. I have decided I do not wish to carry the burden of his message alone.
Can We Eliminate Poverty or Not?
Not too long ago we discussed with you why we can’t end poverty, and you shared some really great thoughts with us.
Well in this chapel, Scott asked us to think of the verse that comes to mind when we think of poverty, a question he has asked many other people, including pastors. Do you know what the common response is? The same verse we originally referenced, just from a different gospel.
“You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” — John 12:8 (NIV)
Scott pointed out that this must be the most memorable verse about the poor, seeing as it is the one most referenced. It has come to serve as the foundation of our philosophy about the poor.
For those of us under the burden of caring deeply for the poor and desiring to help them, maybe this verse offers some comfort. We can’t do it all. Jesus even said that the poor will always be with us.
But for those living in poverty, Scott pointed out, what hope is this verse for them? What does it mean for those living in poverty?
If this verse is what we cling to, then what of Deuteronomy 15:4 (niv):
“However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.”
I’ll share Scott’s belief about the grave misinterpretation of John 12:8 in a couple of days, but before I do, let me know how you feel the two verses work together.