Hi Can you please help me ...

Aswin asked:

Hi Can you please help me with the following questions
  1. The need for world development.
  2. Christian teachings on wealth and poverty, charitable giving and charity.
  3. The work of one Christian agency working for world development.

B. Give your own response to the view that: “There should be no rich Christian as long as there is poverty in this
world”. Give reasons for your answer, showing that you have considered other points of view.
Aswin

Jack Answered:

Dear Aswin:
Thank you for your concern for development on a broad scale. It would like a lengthy treatise, if not a major book to do justice to your questions.

  1. I´m not sure what you mean by "world development." If you mean development in every country of the world, I will point you to very large relief and development organizations. However, developing the resources of the world as a whole is limited by the fact that each country is autonomous with its own philosophy of development and its natural resistence to outside influences.
  2. I will summarize some of my own thinking on this subject under your question "B." One book you might like to look at is Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by R.J. Sider (Word Publishing, 1997).
  3. To my knowledge, the largest Christian agency working for development in many parts of the world with a yearly budget of $233 million dollars is World Vision. They have been working in development for over 50 years and have developed a lot of experience. I am sure that you would find dialogue with one of their representatives very stimulating and fruitful.

As to my own response to the view that: "There should be no rich Christian as long as there is poverty in this world," I would have the following to say.

  • Both the Old and New Testaments have ample references to the responsibility of God´s people to share their good with the poor. We have the example of the first generation believers in Jerusalem who were uncomfortable if any person in their congregation was needy and sought to fill this need.
  • On the other hand, both Testaments give illustrations of continued poverty while some members of the people of God at least had abundance.
  • One issue to deal with is why people are poor. This is a very complex subject and many studies have been done on this (my bibliography is weak since I am at present several thousand miles from home in a foreign country). Poverty can come as a result of oppression of the powerful, disasters - such as war, earthquake, or famine, ineffective management of resources either by individuals or public administrators, or irresponsible behavior. Jesus noted that there would always be poor people.
  • The Marxist dream was that poverty could be eliminated from the world through the change of economic structures. The vision was wonderful and sounded very plausible and many pushed for this goal sacrificing the lives of millions in the process. We all know what happened. The Marxist thinkers did not take into account the universal sinfulness of human beings.

The Bible never gives the idea that poverty as such can be eliminated from the world. However, it does call for Christians to depend on God for wisdom and resources to develop their own lives and share first of all with their brothers and sisters in the faith, and also be concerned for all people whether Christian or not. This is the foundation of organizations such as World Vision. The more difficult issue is to deal with the cause of poverty which are rooted in systems created by limited and selfish individuals.

Thus, though your statement sounds impressive, it doesn´t seem to be to take into account the great complexity of the issues involved. However, this does not mean that we as Christians, particularly those of us who are blessed with the wealth of America, should not be very concerned for those who suffer, both within our borders as well as those in other countries.

Blessings on you as you develop your own thoughts.
Jack

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