Tod Bolsinger is visiting Malawi on a missions trip with World Vision and other church members and churches. In today’s post, he quotes, Charles Ringma, Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen:
Henri) Nouwen reminds us that ‘being poor is what Jesus invites us to, and that is much, much harder than serving the poor.’ If we wish to journey with the poor, we need to become poor ourselves—poor for the sake of the gospel and poor for the sake of our neighbor…at a deeper level.
This quote raises an essential question for Christians, "Is there a beatific blessedness in becoming poor?" Before we respond with a defensive and superficial "No!!" let us examine what might be a good or gospel poverty that indeed can be a means of living morally beautiful lives.
1. Poverty itself isn't beautiful. Involuntary poverty is certainly neither a virtue nor a free pass to blessedness.
2. By becoming poor, Nouwen means becoming incarnational with the suffering of the world and even one's own various forms of poverty. Becoming poor isn't a private virtue but a public and relational act of relating to the evil of the world. You cannot have this beatific life without having compassion as the core virtue of this spiritual discipline of "gospel poverty". Gospel poverty is not simply simplicity.
3. Can one be incarnational with the poor and live luxuriously?
Looking at this quest for the heart of God and a new monastic witness to shine forth in the church, we must take these questions very seriously. Personally, a life of compassion is a life I need to seriously contemplate. How to I enter such a life? How can this life of compassion be the rhythm of my family and the DNA of our church? What changes do I need to make to lead others into this Morally Beautiful life?