Thursday, January 12, 2017

Justice Devotional - Equality and Need

Devotion to Justice
A series of devotions from the Justice table on the topics of
  • Women and children
  • Hunger and poverty
  • Creation care
  • Immigration
Equality and Need
2 Corinthians 8: 13-14

"We don’t want others to have it easy at your expense. We want things to be equal. Right now you have plenty in order to take care of what they need. Then they will have plenty to take care of what you need. That will make things equal. "

I work in a middle-class job and observe a lot of discussions in the church and in government about poverty. People talk about anecdotes and theories. A lot of proof-texting is done with scripture and political ideology, both on the left and the right. Some of it inspires me, but more leaves me cold.

Poverty in the United States and across the globe often seems overwhelming and too big to do anything about. Then I go to church and there is an offering every Sunday, every Sunday of the year. Part of the offering will go to outreach — wells for drinking water in poor nations, disaster relief in developed and developing countries, urban food pantries, a variety of reconciliation ministries — and part necessarily goes to paying the church building's electric bill and the preacher's salary.

Occasionally around offering time my mind is drawn to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 8, to remember people who gave when they might have been on the poorer side of the middle class to encourage generosity. Paul realized that there are differences in resources among communities, yet he wanted those resources to move so that there would be equality. Need mattered. Resources should move from those who have to those in need and later resources would move from those who received to take care of the need of those who have given.

The goal is that kind of equality, an equality that flows from generosity, almost in a circle. Our lives are not static and we receive generous gifts in order to be generous because we have been and will be in need. So we write checks and volunteer time and talent to keep the flow moving. We are part of the flow toward equality, even though often we are not as much a part as we need to be. Love and justice are like that because they move to meet a need and we are all part of their movement.

Prayer: O God, help me to be a part of making things equal, in the Name of Jesus, Your Gift to make things equal. Amen.

Jess Hale, Legislative Attorney with the Tennessee General Assembly Hunger and Poverty

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