Micah Sunday - prophetic call or cop-out?
The Micah Challenge is an initiative supported by many Christian organisations and is allied to the (secular) Global Call to Action Against Poverty.
The aim of 'Micah Sunday' - scheduled for 19 October this year - is to challange political leaders to address the situation of extreme poverty around the world.
One press release states:
“If the Church worldwide can just raise its voice on the issue of extreme poverty, then huge changes can be made. This generation could yet be remembered as the one that wiped extreme poverty from the face of the earth.” (Note 1.)
Whilst it is good and proper to be aware of and highlight the problems of inequality, oppression, disadvantage and poverty, there is surely a deeper question in all of this for Christians.
"Is there not a risk of well-fed Christians in the wealthy developed nations (i.e. us) being accused of hypocrisy by continuing to enjoy the benefits and lifestyles that we do, whilst others (Christians included) are living in conditions of famine and deprivation?"
Do we read in the Bible of Jesus exhorting the Roman authorities to do more to help the poor? What he does say is addressed to his followers:
"If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:29-3)
And James wrote:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
If the Christian community in our land wishes to be truly 'prophetic' in our concern for the poor, perhaps the first thing to consider, before any appeals to unbelievers and goverments are even considered, is making sacrificial cuts in our personal standards of living prior to urging others - and at no direct cost to ourselves - to care for the poor? (Note 2.)
It seems that on his recent visit to Inverness, Luis Palau spoke of one city church in American which - on every calendar month with 5 Sundays - took its church offering around asa gift to a poorer church in the same area.
How much do we see of this expression of love in our own country? And how much do we need to express it towards others abroad who have much less than even the poorest amongst us in the UK?
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts.
But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-- all she had to live on." (Mark 12:41-44)
Note 1: The eradication of poverty is not only unrealistic but is also unbiblical. Jesus said that there would always be the poor amongst us (Matt 26:11), and the book of Revelation makes it clear that the nearer we get to Jesus return so too will there be an increase in the gap between the rich and the poor (Rev. 6:6 & 18:13).
Note 2: And at a corporate level, how can churches in the West justify spending millions on bigger and finer buildings when others lack even a basic roof over their heads?
Is there something that Christians Together website could or should do to express God's care and love for the poor and suffering?