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Grand Rapids, MI

Embarking Blog

...on the journey towards restoration of all things

Downward Mobility

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I want to explain a little more what I mean by "downward mobility" in my last post. I'll take a couple of posts to do it.

In order to get the full impact of what I'm getting at, you have to bear with me on some background. First, let me start out by saying that one of the greatest values of the Scriptures is that the destination of God's blessings in us is not with us. The people of God are intended to be conduits of his blessings "... so that all peoples and nations on earth will be blessed through [them]." [Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:14; Psalm 72:17; Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8; Galatians 3:14] God's blessings were not meant to find their destination in us, but rather find we are conduits for his blessings.

In order to be a people who are able to be conduits of God's blessings, 1) we need to redefine what we need. So often we say "I need this, I need that" when we are really dealing with wants and frivolous excesses. 2) We need to increase our awareness of the needs around us and in the world. The reality is that so many of us are living in excess of our needs while so many around us are unable to meet basic needs. This gross inequity (not inequity itself, but excess next to great need), according to the Hebrew Scriptures, is something that stirs God's anger. It's clear in Scripture that God's passion for the poor, the broken, the widow, the orphan, the alien, the hungry, etc. is one of his greatest passions. In fact, God says over and over again that when religion (the bringing of sacrifices) coupled with a disregard for others in need is something he detests. (cf. Isaiah 1)

In Luke, John the Baptist is telling the people that the kingdom of God is coming. He calls for a preparation for the coming Messiah, and he makes the bold claim that "all mankind will see God's salvation." [3:6] He then challenges the empty religion without action of many of the people around him at the time. Then, the crowds are convicted and they ask John, "What shall we do, then?" At this point, I expect John to say something profound, transcendent, powerful, something earth shattering as these people are called to join a revolution in the coming Kingdom of Jesus. And here is what John says, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."

That's the beginning of what I mean when I speak of downward mobility. You and I live in a culture in which we are taught, marketed, challenged, encouraged, enticed, and peer pressured into living consistently upwardly mobile lives. In fact, those who are not upwardly mobile are often seen as lazy or lacking ambition. In fact, it's just plain un-American to not be upwardly mobile. But who said God's values were American values anyway? I better stop now before I get too critical. More in the next post on the early church and Jesus on downward mobility, and then a third post on some practical issues facing serious followers of Jesus in America today.


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