The Riches Of Christ

In thinking about the urban poor and the ministry of World Impact, I couldn’t help but think that “poor” is so much greater than not having a lot of money. We can talk about how the plight of the urban poor impoverishes them intellectually — their education choices are limited. Even if they can make it through a public high school with grades that would qualify them for college, the schools they attend could well be limited because they would be dependent on scholarships and grants.

And what about the poverty of opportunity? How many family vacations do the urban poor take? Are they camping once a year? Taking off to Hawaii? And how about exposure to other cultures? Where they live, “other cultures” are likely in a rival gang. What about opportunities to learn about America’s heritage? How many urban poor are visiting Washington D. C. (besides the urban poor who live there)? Or Williamsburg? Or how many here in LA make it to the Reagan Library? How many make it to any library? Or museum?

Beyond this is moral poverty — where drugs and prostitution, gangs and adultery, abuse and prison are a part of normal life. Instead of breaking the cycles, however, our society that has turned the care of the urban poor over to the government knows little other than punishment and accommodation. Former U. S. Ambassador and Republican Presidential candidate Alan Keyes used to say that the most important issue before the government was the preservation of the family because that is the social structure that passes on values. He made a lot of good points.

The greater issue, however, is spiritual poverty. All other problems pale in comparison even as they stem from the heart of this one. In conjunction with what Jesus said in the beatitudes about the poor in spirit (“Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matt. 5:3), other Scripture calls our attention to the riches we have in Christ or to the fact that His riches are incomparable, worth whatever suffering might come our way.

Eph. 3:8 – To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ

Phil. 4:19 – And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Heb. 11:26 – [Speaking of Moses] considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (Emphases here and in the following verses are mine)

I especially like the passages in Colossians starting with the end of chapter one and continuing into the early verses of chapter two that identify riches, wealth, and treasure in association with Christ.

Col. 1:27 – to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Col. 2:2-3 – that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

In Peter’s first letter, he equates faith with gold, calling it “more precious” — that would be “faith that comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

Christ Himself is all the treasure we could want, but in Him are more treasures. When we have Christ, we are rich, but when we have Him and nothing else, we are abundantly rich.

If it were not for God’s grace declared in the preaching of the Word of God, I or anyone else would be spiritually poor. Rather, I and all who are in the family of God enjoy the riches of Christ.

How shameful, then, if we squat on this treasure that is never diminished no matter how many times we give it away. How important it is that we do not overlook those in our inner cities who desperately need to hear of the One Who is the image of the invisible God — He Who is treasure, who has treasure, and who gives treasure, Himself.

Published in: on February 7, 2012 at 6:42 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 Comments

  1. Interesting you should write on this subject. I’ve written a book, about to be published in April, about a young girl thrown into the life of wealth who desperately longs to live simply. This tweener fantasy fiction teaches children the very lesson you write about. Treasures are NOT in money, but rather, in the lives of those we love and trust. The main character, Oli, works tirelessly at homeless shelters, loving those with “scars” and her discovery is that the beautiful people are the ones with scars, inside or outside.

    Thank you for writing this blog, it touched me deeply! I wish EVERYONE would read it!! Thank you, Jesus, for allowing us the privilege of your treasures, help us to give freely and abundantly!

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  2. How terribly sad it is that sometimes, when offered the gift of Christ, the gift is then thrown back in Christ’s face without any understanding of just how poor and desperate they really are.

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  3. Interesting how our society chooses to focus on the urban poor and ignore the rural poor— to the extent that they seem to expect the rural poor to use public transportation or a taxi service to get to urgent medical appointments and such even though none are available. I guess the message to the rural poor is to pack up your goods, move to the city, and be homeless until a low-income apartment becomes available.

    And with the increasingly militant anti-God stance of government, the poor get to enjoy spiritual poverty as well. One wonders if Christians who are helping the poor today are allowed to frankly speak of Christ to those they are helping without getting in trouble. I’ve even begun to wonder if I am still permitted to say grace at meals now that my food is paid for with Food Stamps.

    In a document from the Early Church it directs that Christians revere the poor as they do the altar. Somehow government poverty programs don’t seem to give the poor that revered feeling.

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  5. There’s a beautiful, memorable, but sobering refrain in Charles Williams’ poem “The Prayers of the Pope” (the last poem in The Region of the Summer Stars, that I think is apropos of your last point: “Send not, send not, the rich empty away.”

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