James 2:5-7 (NRSV)
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
There are two separate clips going around social media showing Joel Olsteen and Kanye West dismissing the poor. Their basic argument is that riches are a sign of being God’s child. This theology at best is absolute biblical ignorance or at worst an insidious coercion of the Scripture.
James here says it very plainly. God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. In fact, James goes even further to describe how the rich are oppressors of the poor. James is identifying the Christian community with those in poverty more than those with riches. Didn’t Jesus teach the poor shall inherit the earth?
This month we talked about being chosen as a means of servant leadership and community responsibility. It is not a place of dominant individual privilege but rather a place of servitude and humility. Like James teaches we are to take our struggles, our pain, our poverty, and use it in faith.
As we leave this month’s series I pray you see being chosen is not confirmed by social status, awards, recognition, or riches but rather relationship. Olsteen and West’s warped theology is exactly what our enslavers taught us. We didn’t believe it then and we shouldn’t believe it now. God has chosen us to be rich in faith.
Lord make me rich in faith. Prosperous in prayer. Grateful in giving.
Questions for Meditation
Have you ever considered the poor to be chosen?
What stood out the most to you this month?
Now pray God would make you rich in faith.