“And God said, ‘Let humankind produce unlivable poverty.’ And it was so. Great shanty towns multiplied on the face of the earth, in gullies and ditches and in every place where man chose to live. A few lived in great affluence while the majority lived in great desperation, selling their daughters into prostitution so that their families could eat or buy drugs. And there was evening and there was morning, the eighth day.”
Of course these words are not in the account of creation. Poverty was utterly absent from creation, and some readers, I am certain, will be very upset at the above rendering in Biblical language suggesting that God created poverty. Maybe even more upset than they are at the physical existence and reality of poverty today in God’s good creation.
Didn’t Jesus say that “the poor you will always have with you?” Isn’t this a statement of resignation to the fact that poverty will always be around, so, oh well, we may as well make the best of things? I’ll treat that question in another blog. Let us agree for now that God did not design creation with poverty in mind. He did not intend for humanity to experience homelessness and starvation. Nor did he create the cosmos with the idea that millions families would barely subsist, living off of the refuse of others, dying by the scores for lack of basic needs, while a few lived in luxury. Poverty was not made for creation, God never intended it. It is an invader on this earth and an abomination to the Creator. If the first paragraph of this blog is ridiculous and sickening to us, so must the existence poverty be to us.
“God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
Everything the creation accounts tell us is that God created abundantly, holding nothing back. Besides the oft repeated, “And God saw that it was good,” amplified at the end of creation with the words “very good,” there is the frequent repetition of the expression, “of every kind.” There was a lot of teeming and swarming going on in creation. The variety and fruitfulness of all God had made is striking. So what went wrong? How is it that on such an abundant and fruitful planet we have become impoverished?
The answer to that question is longer than a 500 word blog treatment can begin to address. I will only say that in the Original Great Commission (Gen. 1:28) it appears that God endowed the human race with the ability to “replenish” the earth, or as some translations put it “fill the earth.” We were also commissioned to “subdue” the earth. My understanding of this almost militaristic Hebrew word is that we have been equipped to bring every thing that does not belong in creation under control. Finally we are to “have dominion over” or to govern this good creation. Humans have been given God’s authority to replenish what is diminished, to subdue what is out of order, and govern what is good. We were the only thing in creation made in his image, and with his image comes his authority to rule as co-sovereigns with God, using the wisdom, compassion and creativity passed along to us in our likeness to him. Can we not, then, take up this commission and subdue poverty? More on this later.