Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where is God to be readily found?

Yes, of course, God is to be found everywhere. As we taught our children,“There is no spot where God is not.” He is omnipresent. But that was not my question.

In a passage within one of her much longer devotional writings, Mother Teresa wrote:
Is not our mission
to give God to the poor?
Not a dead God, but a living, loving God.

I am inspired and moved by these words, fully recognizing that they present a deep mine to be explored for great hidden treasures. Among the obvious to be searched is "Who are the poor?" (I give considerable credence to the thoughts that “Loneliness is the greatest cause of the most desperate poverty"... and, of course, that "We are all spiritually poor, indeed, bankrupt apart from God.") I want to take great care to avoid any qualitative or value judgement concerning "the poor," recognizing that we are all impoverished.

Upon reading Mother Teresa's words, and without a trace of pushback, I could not resist stealing them (Stealing from Mother Teresa?!?) and adding to them to reflect my experience of the calling of God and him at work:

Is not our mission
to meet up with God living among the poor?
Not a dead God, but a living, loving God.
To be awestruck by his great presence among the poor,
And to humbly join him in his work,
To serve and bless the poor, and
To be blessed by him and by his beloved poor.

I similarily journaled long ago before coming to Africa:

"Perhaps my greatest sin is the sin of indifference,... indifference to the deprivation and suffering of the poor in our sin-plagued world, even deluding myself with the repugnant belief that in my indifference I am aligned with Christ, who said “The poor will always be with you”. (What a perversion of Scripture!) We know from other very clear passages of Scripture that Christ was not indifferent to the poor, but rather cared so very much for them, and was filled with compassion for them,... and directed us to respond.

So why does God allow poverty? Does he? Or do we, the gluttonous rich? An all encompassing, definitive explanation is far beyong my grasp, but I do believe that poverty creates an opportunity to reveal what is in our hearts and souls: If something good (love, compassion, mercy, charity), and we respond as God has intended, then God is glorified (and we experience true joy). If something shameful (a miserly, selfish, hardened heart that neither fears nor trusts God), then we might ulitimately be convicted by the sight of the poor who surround us, and repent and be moved to action. In this marvelous dynamic, God is surely pleased by ministry to the poor and suffering, and also by the softening and transformation of hardened hearts which have been spurred to minster. A double blessing. A double measure of God’s grace to both the materially poor and the so-called rich."