Are we as Christians more afraid of being poor than dying?
It’s a thought that occurred to me this morning while reading through the gospel of Luke, and the accompanying Expository Thoughts by JC Ryle. In Luke 2 we read of a number of things:
- Christ was born in a manger, wrapped in swaddling (bandage) cloths, for there was no place for them in the inn (Lk 2:6). Not quite the “presidential suite”.
- When Jesus was presented at the temple, Mary and Joseph were only able to sacrifice ‘a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons’. The Levitical law itself (Lev 12:8) required the sacrifice of a lamb and turtle dove (or pigeon); but if the worshiper could not afford a lamb, two turtle-doves or two young pigeons would suffice. Jesus’ parents fell into this latter category.
From other parts of the gospels we learn also that Joseph was a carpenter – he was not wealthy. All these things lead to the ineluctable conclusion that our Saviour was poor, and chose to be associated with poverty. As Ryle put it:
“Poverty, it is manifest, was our Lord’s portion upon earth, from the days of His earliest infancy. He was nursed and tended as a babe, by a poor woman. He passed the first thirty years of His life on earth, under the roof of a poor man. We need not doubt that He ate a poor man’s food, and wore a poor man’s apparel, and worked a poor man’s work, and shared in all a poor man’s troubles. Such condescension is truly marvellous. Such an example of humility passes man’s understanding.”
The God of all the Earth; the one called Saviour (Hebrew: Joshua); the one who through whom all the heavens and the earth were created; yet He chose to come down in all humility and poverty. How can we say that God does not identify with the poor, the oppressed, the widows, the fatherless? How can we say that Christianity is not a “poor man’s religion”, rather that it is merely for the “rich, educated classes”?
And how can we as Christians be so afraid of material poverty when our Saviour, our Lord, identified with that very state?
Are we more afraid of poverty than death?