Just finished listening to a Catalyst podcast featuring an interview with Rob Bell, an enjoyable enough fellow to listen to with some good ideas to share. He spoke about South Africa, church in the West, and more. Then he got speaking about poverty and the church’s response to it. These were no doubt the most powerful words to this listener…
I don’t think this is necessarily to save the poor; I think it’s for our salvation. I think that we have been blessed beyond measure, and if we don’t give it away and steward it well, our own souls are going to shrivel up. This is about the state of our own souls. According to Jesus’ teachings, we’re in trouble if we hog it or keep it to ourselves.
There’s 2103 verses on the poor and oppressed. This is how Jesus began his first sermon: ‘I’ve been anointed to preach the good news to the poor.’ God is with the poor; we’re with God when we’re with the poor.
God has no interest in us building our empires.
This is a huge issue. The rich man and Lazarus… I mean, the rich man is in hell because he ignored the needs of Lazarus by his front gate. So for Jesus, there’s a very literal, earthly hell for those who ignore the need of those around them. I would even argue the man who builds bigger barns… the only clear passages where Jesus speaks of somebody in hell are about a religious person with extraordinary wealth that doesn’t share it with those who are in need. That’s where he gives specific cases of those who are in hell even if they are parables.
PS: On a lighter note (but don’t let it derail the above thoughts)… Rob Bell has never listened to a podcast in his life, and he doesn’t do much on the internet… his own words.