Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. –1 Corinthians 12:14-20
It's hard to look at someone else's success and not covet it. This is, of course, dangerous because doing this causes us to ignore our own unique and flourishing path God has for us. Flipping that concept over, it's also hard to not want those whom we believe have "less" than us to have what we have. Know what we know. Enjoy what we enjoy. Far too often when seeking to be in ministry with the poor, we project our own idea of abundance on others, rather than learning from their wisdom and experience the best ways in which to serve.
Truly lasting solutions to poverty of all kinds require humility. As Paul says, "if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? … If all were a single member, where would the body be?" If those whom we seek to be in ministry with became like us, where would their God-given essence be? If impoverished communities like those the Zip Code Connection serves became like the suburbs from which people came to help… where would their culture and unique offerings to society be? Rev. Larry James of CitySquare in Dallas describes this best with the title (and content) of his book, The Wealth of the Poor: How Valuing Every Neighbor Restores Hope in Our Cities. Let’s restore hope in all our communities by breaking down the walls that prevent eyes from being fully eyes, or hands from being fully hands.
- Instead of inserting our wealth into the poverty of others, how can we work on the poverty that creates barriers between the intrinsic wealth we all have as humans?
- What are the unique gifts you have to offer that few people around you have? How have you failed to notice these kinds of unique gifts in others?
- In what ways does our own wealth can impede our ability to solve the problems poverty creates?
God of truth, show us the ways that lead to actual restoration. Show us the ways that lead to lasting peace. Show us the ways that we can help with humility, wisdom, and compassion rather than pride, arrogance, and false judgment. Help us be agents of hope in our communities. Amen.
As we continue to expand our understanding of what wealth is, and how we are all unique in our part of society, let us share in the effort of building up resources and wealth for others by setting aside an hour’s wage each week or giving up other things we crave as a form of fasting to support the Zip Code Connection and missions in Mozambique through MDiM.
Contribute today at tmumc.org/lent.