Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outrage at the Rich

Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? ~ James 2:5-7


Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."

Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'

"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." '

"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'

"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." ~ Luke 12:13-21


"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." ~ Mark 10:25


We're all outraged at the rich right now. The AIG whizzes who collect bonuses for badly investing funds. The legislators who, in 2000, passed the laws that made it easy to badly invest funds. Bernie Madoff and all the folks who trusted him with the funds with which he made off. Paris Hilton for feeling violated that someone made off with her cell phone.

Good grief.

How about being mad at ourselves, too?

We're wealthy beyond words, each one of us who owns a computer in order to read these words formed by the pixels. We do precious little or nothing to relieve the suffering of the poor on other continents who can't read and don't have computers - or food or potable water - but perhaps do have malaria or AIDS.

The Lord's brother would say we have insulted the poor, I think.

And Jesus Himself, I believe, would say we are making it nigh-on to impossible for ourselves to enter the kingdom of God.

May God help us all.

And forgive us.

- After we've shown that we're willing to do much, much, much better.

9 comments:

dell kimberly said...

Thanks brother you never cease to make me think.

Chris said...

How about a little outrage for the Democratic leadership who wrote the stimulus bill, exempted the AIG bonusues, it was signed by the Democratic leadership and the President who then lied saying they didn't know the bonuses were exempted and are now whipping up outrage for something they wrote in order to defect attention from the massive spending bill?

Keith Brenton said...

Chris, there's enough guilt to go around.

You are, of course, free to express your partisan political judgment here and in a million other places on the 'net ... but I had hoped to communicate a level of responsibility that is a good deal deeper and more personal than simple politics.

Jason said...

Great thoughts Keith. Posts like this are great reminders that we all need to hear; (1) how blessed we truly are, and (2) how easy it is and therefore how crucial it is that we don't live carelessly, taking for granted what we do have. And (3) how neglectful I have been toward helping out those who are suffering much more than me. Thank you!

By the way, I have really enjoyed looking at your blog in the last day or so. Good stuff.

mmlace said...

Ouch...

Jim said...

"but I had hoped to communicate a level of responsibility . . ."

Well, you might start with getting some of the basic facts right concerning the AIG bonuses. They were NOT bonuses given to people who "badly invested funds." They were bonuses promised to employees if they would stay and help AIG wind down certain divisions and deals rather than leave the company and allow it to fall apart. You want to jump on Chris for being "partisan," but you appear to be a bit selective in your outrage when you choose to ignore his point.

It is absolutely true that the original language would have prevented these bonuses, but Chris Dodd, at the request of the White House, replaced language in the stimulus bill that allowed the bonuses. That's a fact.

If you want to be outraged about the bonuses, you should not simply shrug off someone for being partisan when they tell the truth about the politics that led to the bonuses. Chris may not be the most partisan here.

Keith Brenton said...

Jim, once again, the point of the post is to communicate a level of responsibility - and let me make this point-blank, dead-aim clear - that is PERSONAL with regard to the way that pretty much ALL of us, WHATEVER POLITICAL PERSUASION, NEGLECT THE SUFFERING AND POVERTY OF OTHERS.

That includes ME.

You, also, are welcome to deposit your partisan comments here and a million other places on the Web. But if you insist on arguing a defense for unscrupulous accumulation of absurd amounts of wealth without any apparent regard for the plight of the destitute but ultimate concern for the defense of those who wagered the future of others on bad investments or those of a political party that I did not even name, then I would say you are having an adventure in totally missing the point.

Brian H. said...

While I agree with Chris and Jim on where a lot of the blame goes, I do see that isn't the point of the post.

If Amos, that nipper of sycamore trees was here today, he would speak about the outrage against everyone (GOP and DEMs) on how the poor and homeless have been treated.

Amos would say this, "You mostly Democrat Wall Street bankers who treat the poor bad..."

(Picture the GOP cheering)

"You mostly Democrat AIG execs who treat the poor with disgust.."

(Picture the GOP cheering)

"But wait, you Republicans have been doing this, that, and all kinds of other things that have shown you have no concern for the poor and homeless either...."

WE ARE ALL TO BLAME!!!! Keith, you're right on!

I'm trying to raise money to keep our church plant going. I've used our life savings over 1 1/2 years. It's all gone now. I've been told by one minister that he personally knows a church planting family that lives on way more than they need. They receive so much from financial partners. And here we are, dying on the vine, trying to help the poor, feed the homeless and we're almost there ourselves. We go to food pantries too. We shouldn't have too.

We know so many Christians that have such nice houses. so much stuff, great cars etc. We have one Ford truck that won't run and needs new battery and new alternator. We have a Buick w/ 166k mi and it barely runs. Hard to do full-time church planting like that.

JIM, CHRIS and OTHERS... We're all to blame.

P.S. Praise God for some Christians that sacrifice a little or a lot to help missionaries, ministries and church planters. There are people out there like that too.

Jim said...

Brian H. said, ""But wait, you Republicans have been doing this, that, and all kinds of other things that have shown you have no concern for the poor and homeless either....""

Really? Study after study have shown that Republicans are more charitable with their money than are Democrats. Here is the mistake in your charge: you want to judge someone's concern for the poor as to whether or not they want to use other peoples' money to salve their own conscience. What if you genuinely believe government collectivism and social spending actually do more to harm the poor than to help? There is good evidence that our "war on poverty" has really been a war on the black family as it has been totally destroyed (see George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty, among others). The charge that those who oppose additional government growth somehow do not care for the poor is a poorly thought out and totally spurious charge that is all too easy to make. It is grossly simplistic to assume that those who advocate a free market and freedom to not care for the poor. It may just be they actually believe such an approach is the best way to help the poor. I am confident in stating that corporate America has done more in this nation's history to "help the poor" in an economic sense than the federal government has ever dreamed.

Keith said, "that is PERSONAL with regard to the way that pretty much ALL of us, WHATEVER POLITICAL PERSUASION, NEGLECT THE SUFFERING AND POVERTY OF OTHERS."

Personal, huh? Well good, I'm glad to hear it is. I will come near believing it is personal when I quit seeing so much emphasis on using the government to solve poverty. It doesn't do a very good job usually and it soothes the conscience of those who come to believe they really care just because they vote for someone who promises more ineffective social spending.