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Christ & Poverty

Posted by Radical Resurgence | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 01-08-2012

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Perhaps we live in an age in which the question we must deal with first is, “Is it possible to practice Christ and not be poor?”  Our age of self-sufficiency works well for those for whom it works well–the great tautology.  For those whom it does not work that is their problem; not mine, not yours, just their problem.

Our world is the product of the self-portrait, a world where “I” am the subject of “my own” universe in which all is objectified (one need only login to MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter to understand this–the new technologies have turned everyone into an artist, and he can think of nothing better to paint than his own technological image).

In this world “human laziness makes people pigeonhole one another at first sight so they find nothing in common,” said Dostoyevsky’s Idiot.

This refusal is a renarration of self-identity as self-preservation–the preservation of a false self.  We know as we are known, and if I know “you” within a specified category, then “my” identity remains securely fixed within “my” own mental construction.  Until the real work of getting to know “the other,” “I” remain enclosed in the virtual realm of “my” own making.

The church that really does renounce Satan, all the spiritual forces that rebel against God, the evil powers of the world, and sinful desires that draw us away from God, and then turns to Christ as Savior and Lord would be a most dangerous and exciting place to be.

And it is at this point that Chesterton is most needed, who reminds us that “the Christian life has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”  Tolkien reminded us of man’s capacity for greatness, and how swiftly a man falls when he relies on himself.  We now stay away from greatness knowing that we might fail–as though failure is a necessity.

“They will know me by your love for one another” is a very damning passage of holy scripture.  We are left to wonder if the church is making Christ known.  Thank God for the churches that do; I’m ready to be part of that church, knowing that I am, even when it seems invisible.

It gets harder and harder to believe, I know, that the Donatists were wrong.  But that they are, and have been for 1600 years, is at least promising.

by Billy Daniel

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