This subject cannot be treated lightly - it involves the very essence of whether Christ is truly our absolute Head or not. We cannot, cannot, serve God and Mammon (money, riches, wealth). The materialistic American culture (and some other cultures as well) are so ingrained with the service of Mammon that many people are steeped in materialism (Mammon worship) and do not even know it. Until one has experienced true poverty (not having enough to do what has been placed before you to do) and experienced the abandonment (of those who called you "brother" and "friend" before you came to be in need of some thing they possess) that goes hand in hand with poverty, one does not even know what the real issues of poverty are about. After being exposed to and immersed in the "Christian" "church" circles that falsely teach us to equate "giving money to a 'church,' 'ministry,' or 'storehouse'" with "meeting the needs of the poor" and that letting the clergy attend to the details is really Christ's plan for His people, most Americans (and those others exposed to similar cultural expectations) do not even know what Christ mean when He gave the example of abandoning His place of superiority, humbly girding a towel around His own waist and doing the lowliest act of service for His followers. (see Jn. 13:1-17 ; top )
In my life, I have been subjected to a relatively intense period of poverty. I wish I could say I knew it was completely over. But I do know that my poverty is the result of obeying God - not disobeying Him. That has been confirmed many times even though many people (most of them "Job's friends") have never understood it. I don't even know all the reasons God has led me into this arena but here is what He has shown me to date:
1) Because I am a writer, my experiences and insights will be written down and used to set some people (American and otherwise) free from their ignorant worship of money.
2) Because I also am a publisher (not to mentions my simple status as a member of the body of Christ), I cannot work (or even live the true life of Christ) alone. My poverty was directly made worse as a result of the callous disregard of my "brothers and sisters" in Christ. This was an unusual circumstance but it did happen. That is, certain members of the so-called body of Christ, though they repeatedly protested to me how much they loved me and my family, failed to act in love at a crucial time of need in my life and left me caught in a financial trap.
I suppose I ought to qualify my claim to "intense poverty." Rather, God has trained me and my family to walk in "enough" - a standard of living much lower than the average American believer will even consider as adequate for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!
I will not deny that this second reason for my state of poverty has caused me trouble and grief in my walk with Christ. I struggled for a time with being bitter over the neglect inflicted upon myself and my family. What finally freed me from that struggle was the clear revelation from God that we had indeed been sinned against. I'm no stranger to sin - I've committed many sins against God over the years and He has always graciously forgiven me. Once I was able to see that they had indeed sinned against me, it was easy to compare their "balance sheet" against me with the one I've run up against God - and then tear up their sheet. But while I could only see it as an "offense" or a "hurt" or an immaturity or even as just a lack of love on their part, I had no means of achieving a resolution. When God said that what they were doing was sinful and then waited for my response, my choice to forgive was the impetus for an inrush of revelation, peace and understanding.
But now comes the second phase as I, a writer and publisher, put down in words our sins in regards to the poor. Just as when I was led away from the evil "church" system and began to write about the anti-Scriptural fallacies and sins of "church" leaders and followers, I was accused of all manner of "hurt," sin and bitterness. I had been hurt by the "church" leaders, for sure, just as I have been hurt by those who have claimed to love me while abandoning me in my state of need. When I was combating the "church" (when I was still too young to know better than to argue with the "Pharisees"), no one would even look at the acts of the leaders committed against me as sinful - it was as if I had received "immaculate woundings." I had been hurt but no one would dare say (because exalted "pastors" were involved) that those doing the wounding had sinned against me in any way. I hope that those in leadership of the body of Christ will now have a better reaction to my words about poverty, but I know that the things I have written about our treatment of the poor will light a fuse that will trigger an explosive response from even true believers. Those who react with soulish indignation will only have one more thing to repent of when all is said and done. Those who humbly and contritely present these words of instruction and reproof back to God and quietly ask Him, "How much of this is true of me, my Lord?" will be enabled to rightly divide these words and appropriately apply them to their lives. Anyone who thinks these writings are some sort of gimmick to raise money - and then who uses that excuse to dismiss the truths contained therein - is desperate to find any means to cover up his own sin.
There is no doubt that speaking against the entangled roots of materialism in our culture is to delve into a complex realm of truths, half-truths, lies, deceptions and distortions. A work as short as this series is cannot contain all the answers - it does not even try. Rather it is my hope that it points the readers into an even greater depth of real experience with the One Who Is Every Answer.
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!