Home arrow Articles arrow Poverty arrow IS POVERTY GOD'S WILL?
Home
Articles
Bible Studies
IS POVERTY GOD'S WILL? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jim Jordal   
Wednesday, 29 August 2012

IS POVERTY GOD’S WILL?

By Jim Jordal

Is it God’s will that perhaps half of the world’s families live on less than $2 per day? Is it God’s will that 20 million children starve or die of nutrition-related diseases every day? Is it God’s will that trillions are spent for war while millions die of diseases that could be conquered if military funds were devoted to medical research? Is the wanton destruction of the earth by rapacious corporations also God’s will? In fact, is any current disaster happening across the earth really God’s will?

If you were to ask many conservative Christians they would say that because God is sovereign nothing can happen that is not within his will or providence. "God knows what he’s doing, so who are we to question or intervene?" There is considerable biblical support for this belief, but there are also many scriptures to the contrary.

The problem with believing that disaster is God’s will is that it tends to create a spiritual posture of detachment in the face of great evil. The thought is: "Well, if this is God’s will then what could I possibly do about it?"

One thing we don’t often realize is that the law of cause and effect is operative, not only in the physical world, but also in the spiritual realm. We’re beginning now to realize that the recent fires in Colorado, floods in Florida, and oppressive heat almost everywhere may have something to do with the way we’ve treated the earth. Scripture reveals in many places that God sends disaster in the form of military conquest, famine, disease and natural disaster upon people and nations displeasing to him. The converse is also true: blessings upon those who trust him and obey his word. Behavior in direct violation of God’s word, like unjust treatment of helpless people, earns God’s enmity against groups and nations practicing such oppression.

Even though it is not God’s will that humans should needlessly suffer, there is still what is known as God’s "permissive will." He doesn’t wish us to suffer, but he does allow us to suffer because of our own bad choices, both personal and national. We’re usually quite aware of the suffering caused by bad personal decisions, but pay little or no attention to the world-wide suffering caused by poor choices made by nations and their political and economic institutions and leaders. Many Christians actually ridicule the idea that natural disasters may be related to national sin, even though many such instances are recorded in Scripture.

So let’s look for a bit at national sin and its consequences. First of all, just what is national sin? National sin occurs as a result of excessive pride, arrogance, ignorance, and cruelty by national leaders and their followers. Their hubris causes them to egotistically consider themselves above the law and immune to adverse consequences. Their sins take the form of violations of God’s law relative to economic and political justice, human oppression, and the building of institutions dedicated to the perpetuation of an owning, ruling class over all others. So a short definition of national sin would be anything done by rulers or the institutions and structures they create that ignores God’s word, idolizes possessions and money over God, and harms human beings.

Using this definition you can easily see that there is much national sin in the world today. Perhaps the most easily understood example of such sin is found in social caste systems that categorize people at birth into various groupings that determine their occupations, places of residence, marriage possibilities, political participation, and practically everything else in life. There is no escape from such systems. What is especially cruel is the discrimination of all forms practiced upon these unfortunates by those higher in the pecking order. Also unfortunate is the fact that many victims of these oppressive conditions consider it God’s will that they suffer without relief. This of course allows further repression by the ruling elite.

Systems of domination similar to that above exist to some degree in all nations and cultures. They are especially adept in suborning religion to gain legitimacy and public acceptance. So widespread is this public acceptance of the status quo that much of the voting public continues to support and even idolize political parties and platforms that will in the long run bring them to virtual economic destruction.

Does God care about this situation? Yes, he cares deeply as he suffers along with the poor in their destitution. Poverty and its associated miseries are not God’s will. He continues to allow them to fester because we are not yet ready to adopt his cure.