Q Los Angeles 2013
Arts + Entertainment
Science + Tech
The End Of Suffering
We must allow our lives to be forever changed by the presence of poverty in our world. As we consider what the end of suffering summons us to, we start with the affirmation that unjust poverty and suffering are an assault on the image of God. Every victim of poverty and every human being who unjustly suffers are created in God’s image. And that image is attacked when one’s dignity and identity are stolen. We must work to reclaim their identities as a testimony to their dignity as God’s children.
Secondly, each victim of poverty is, at the very least, theologically our neighbor, and in many cases our sister or brother. Jesus had much to say about how we should relate to our neighbors and sisters and brothers.
Finally, we need to clothe ourselves in a spirit of humility and submission by recognizing and affirming that we desperately need the poor. Their circumstances remind us of our own poverty, our need for grace and rescue, and Christ’s own example of becoming poor for our sake. We truly work out our salvation among the poor. Indeed, as Mother Teresa used to tell us, “we need the poor more than the poor need us.”
The journey of moving from oppression to freedom is a long one. It requires an honest accounting and submission of our own freedoms for the sake of others’ freedoms. It includes affirming human dignity, rejecting the perpetuation of disparity of globalization, and moving from donor to receptor in mission. And the journey ultimately involves discovering, embracing, and celebrating kingdom of God poverty — a radical, but biblical concept. The implications of these discoveries lead us to new commitments, and the fruitfulness of them will allow for the establishment of biblical justice in our lives and through our communities. And maybe even a beginning to the end of suffering for our friends.
1. Does it strike you as idealistic to think about and discuss and end to suffering? Why or why not?
2. On page 6, Chris Heuertz offers four broad themes from Scripture about poverty and suffering. Have you been aware of these themes, or do they surprise you? Identify and discuss one or two passages from the Bible that you think best demonstrate each theme.
3. What forms of oppression and poverty are taking place in your own city? Are there any ways that your lifestyle, habits, and actions potentially contribute to the systems that create this oppression and poverty?
4. Have you ever considered embracing and celebrating poverty in your own life? What would this look like? How can your community of faith encourage and help you do this?
5. In what ways can churches, as a whole, embody biblical justice and Christ-like poverty for the sake of those who are poor and suffering?
1 Poverty is much more complex than this over-simplification. For instance, I have intentionally omitted forms of poverty that are caused and perpetuated by the consequences of poor personal decisions.
2 Resources include, but are not limited to:
Financial: economic resources, adequate income, a sustainable financial base, financial credit, access to capital.
Communal: solidarity based in family, community, and societal support; social security nets; partnership and support provided in the context of free participation; security and protection (i.e., just and reliable legal system).
Social: respect, identity, dignity, realistic sense of self-worth, psychological stability, emotional well-being.
Medical: dietary sustenance, safe drinking water, sufficient caloric intake, adequate health care.
Residential: adequate housing, protective shelter.
Educational: basic education, literacy, means of pursuing higher education.
Spiritual: access to a supportive and nurturing community of faith, freedom of religious expression, availability to spiritual truth, spiritual wholeness.
It can be assumed that these resources are available in limited supply, but often the poor are unable to acquire them. Opportunity is the access and ability to utilize and apply these resources.
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