“Ideally, there would be no poverty, but we have to accept it.” Ideally there would be no sin, but the Bible makes absolutely clear that we are to honour God and fight sin. God’s commands aren’t options. They’re legitimate commands. Anyone who can’t tell the difference between the two needs to find out what authority means.
Some people may make the argument that Jesus said we would always have the poor among us, and so it’s “no use trying to fight what will always be here.” While this is true of poverty, that it will always be among us even if we choose to ignore it or insulate ourselves from it, it is also true of sin, that it will be present no matter how hard we wish it would go away, until the Lord comes again. That doesn’t mean we aren’t required to resist it vigorously by the grace of God.
We fight sin even though only the Day of the Lord will erase it. The same goes for poverty.
The word of God is no utopian text that merely describes what an ideal society would be like: it condemns stealing from, committing violence against and defrauding our neighbour in lust for profit, and it also condemns avarice that fails to recognize that though we are given stewardship of what we get justly God is the real owner and commands us to care for the poor, not haphazardly but diligently: when we help “the least of these” we have done to Jesus as we have done to those who are weak (Mt. 25.31–46). So it tells us what to do now. It’s not for someday.
It’s not enough to be “moderate” and then utter complacent, sanctimonious pieties, nor is it enough for those who love God to hold to the technicalities of the law but entertain mean thoughts about the needy (Dt. 15.9–10). As Barry Goldwater said,
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!
If America thinks of profit and foolishly puts it before righteousness and ignores the poor God will indeed judge the nation, as surely as He will if we continue the socially accepted murder and the unrestrained sexual sin that plagues America today.
You foolish Americans!
It’s idolatrous to believe that, given the depraved state of American affairs in these days, America will certainly continue to exist a hundred years from now. Even if human “wisdom” banks on America’s power we know from God’s revelation and His actions in history that powerful nations are delivered into the hands of another when their wickedness is great enough. Trust in God, not in the strength of your arms and your men.
This nation is not immune to God’s judgement, just as Babylon was not immune but was “mene, mene, tekel uparsin”. It’s time for us to stop acting as if we were. But His hand is mighty to save: He can bring a heart of stone to repentance and faith in His power to transform it into a heart of flesh.