You Are Here – Part One
This past Sunday, I began a mini-series on how the Gospel of Jesus Christ applies to the top three needs of our local community. This assumes, of course, that God has placed each of us in space and time together as a church for a reason – to join Him in His mission of reconciling people to Himself in Jesus. It also assumes that every problem and dysfunction we experience can be traced back to the effects of sin. Part One of the series focused on economic need.
In the message, I named three ‘roots’ of poverty:
1) Individualistic: People make bad decisions.
2) Structural: Certain structures in society promote poverty.
3) Fatalistic: Things happen that are outside of a person’s control.
Of course, I didn’t come up with these on my own – they are what I’ve gleaned from others’ thinking and writing. But, I do think these are both roots and results. Think of how a situation outside of our control can lead to bad personal decision, and you’ll see my point. Poverty is cyclical and the problems are compounding.
Yet, it’s sometimes difficult to accept one or more of the above roots. As I’ve taught on how to treat the poor in the past, I’ve mentioned that the level of opportunity in our society gives personal decisions the greatest weight. While I still believe that to be true, I can’t ignore the other two either. For example, I’ve seen how ‘no-fault divorce’ and compounding credit card interest can promote poverty. These aren’t merely personal choices; the structure sets people up for bad results. If you know someone who has been laid off from work, you’ve seen the third one in action (and perhaps the others too).
Do you think all three ‘roots’ are valid? Which one(s) do you struggle with? Are there more ‘roots’ we should add to the list?