Kirk today was around the theme of Christ at the Margins. Kirk has but one full time pastor. The other two — well one runs a photography business, and the other is the New Zealand Coordinator for Servants. But we do not live in the poor parts of Vancouver, where there will be one shower for every 30 rooms. (which is below NZ standards for anything residential). In the developed world, poverty is a complex issue — relating not only to live choices but the structure of society. Today we were reminded that Jesus cares for the poor and oppressed: he supports them over Wall St.
Jon pointed out that some would see this unfair. We are fed, but God cares for the hungry. We deserve his love. Well, actually we don’t. We cannot earn salvation: instead God saves us and then changes us.
And this world is unfair. We should care for those at the bottom, because they are us. They are our brothers and sisters. It is not a matter as much of fomenting revolution as refusing to accept the lies of the ideologies. The people at the food bank do not care that I am a tory with reformed theology. They want to be less hungry.
Now, throwing money at the problem does not solve it. We have around one in five people in New Zealand on some form of benefit — theiy are either retired, disabled, solo parents, or unemployed. (There are far more people on benefits who are unable to work than waiting for jobs). The benefit is not generous, but it does allow people to not be in boarding houses if they budget well. However, as in Vancouver, we have a homeless people despite having a welfare state and a socialized health care system. People still fall between services — that are continually revised by our politicians — who all want people working and healthy, even though some are Trostkyites, others as Social Democrats, and others are Tories.
The state cannot deal with everything. There is local poverty and global poverty.
How can we outwork this? Well, my part of the city has people donating their fresh vegetables and swapping them for things that do not require refrigeration and last (Yes, I mean canned food). Because canned food can go to the food-bank. Our children are contributing to a fund to buy wells in the least developed parts of Africa.
We cannot remove all the structural problems, but we can help our neighbor. And when we meet at Kirk, we need to encourage each other to continue with this.