As part of the Riv Text reading program, I was reading 2 Corinthians 8. I read it, skimming over the first time, and then for some reason went back and read it again
13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."I wasn't sure exactly what it meant. At face value, it seemed like a very hard thing that Paul was asking at the church of Corinth. It reads almost like socialism, where those with much give to those with little. As I typed that last line, my first thought was, "Huh. Isn't that the calling of the church? Isn't the church called to take care of the poor, the widows the orphans? (James 1:26-27):
Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.Isn't the church called to be a level playing field, in the same way God has leveled it out for us? (Galatians 3)
28-29In Christ's family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.When I dig into this conversation, my head starts spinning because it seems like too much to address. Here's what I know:
- I know that the church (including me) is called to not only deal with the pain at hand, but to try and address the institutional sin that causes some of the poverty and pain in the world and not to enable it further with straight handouts.
- I know that the more I make, the more more my money takes hold of me. A friend from high school, Russ Niesz, said something once that stuck with me today: "We rise to our own level of poverty." Completely true. As my friend Matt and I were running the other day, we saw a pretty poor family fishing on a bridge. We were talking about how for that family, that may be a great vacation, but our kids would think it was the worst ever. We change our standards and it just keeps getting more and more expensive.
- I know that the more I give away and the less I'm connected to my stuff, the more free I am.
- I don't have all the answers, and I still don't like huge taxes, because at the end of the day, I don't think the government is very good and efficient at spending my money.