(You may want to check out Part I, Part II, and Part III)
Except for an infinitesimal pocket of humanity (almost exclusively in the west and mainly in the last few hundred years) men and women in every era and on every continent have known that there is some kind of life after death. From the beginning of the human experience, archaeologists tell us that we humans have always been deeply convinced of the hereafter.
When God came to earth in the man Jesus Christ, he spoke a fair bit about “eternal life,” and about the “age to come.” While there is plenty of mystery surrounding the specifics of this place and time, one thing is clear – at some point at the culmination of history, God and people will live together in a way we have not known … at least not for a very long time. One of the final verses of the Bible puts it this way:
"Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev. 21:3-4).
In this place where lion and lamb lie down together, where the tree of life gives leaves which heal nations, where a river of life flows from the throne of God; there is no slum, there is no homelessness, there is no child labor, no sex trafficking. It is a place of shalom. When God redeems all things at history’s culmination, there will be no poverty.
There was no poverty in creation
. And even in our fallen world, God set up a government in Old Testament Israel
in such a way that “there should be no poor among you.” (Deut. 15:4). When the followers of Jesus first came together after Jesus had risen from the dead “there were no needy people among them
,” (Acts 4:34). And in the picture of “the age to come” we see a place where “children will not be doomed to misfortune,” (Is. 65:23).
So if poverty was not part of the design for the universe, if God created structures among his people in both old and new testaments to eradicate it (or at least make it very rare), and if God’s kingdom to come does not tolerate poverty, then why do God’s people accept it today as if it is something we just have to get used to? Is God OK with half of humanity living on less than $2.50 per day
and 25,000 children dying each day because they simply lack the dignity of daily bread?
Let me assure you that poverty is not OK with God. A twelve-year-old girl, forced because of poverty to have sex with ten guys a day is not OK with God. Poverty so deep that entire communities must live off the garbage of others is not OK with God. Poverty is an offense to God, it is an offense to creation and it ought to be an offense to us. And until his kingdom has come and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven poverty should not be tolerated.