The Poor Will Be With You Always or Fear Of Lack

Jesus is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew as saying, “The poor will be with you always.” What an amazing prediction. I have heard several interpretations regarding this passage. I think Jesus was foretelling what he saw as a problem in his time and is still a problem – the poor are still here. In today’s society, just as in the time of Jesus there is a reason there is still poverty – it is the fear that there is not enough to go around and those who are in need are simply too lazy, drugged out, and useless to matter. In our society today we can hear all kinds of fear in our conversation. Again, there is talk of being lazy drug addicts who suck off the teat of others. There is true fear that those who are in need are taking what is rightfully mine, something I have worked hard for. They will take my job, my money, my food. To protect myself I will buy a gun, vote for laws that keep them away from me, ignore them on the street, and believe all the fear that politicians speak of regarding the poor. The poor are still with us because we have placed them in a never ending position of being poor. Let’s look at some of our fear as we examine “The poor will be with you always.”


One theory of fear is that those who are poor and need food stamps or welfare are drug users. That’s why they don’t have a job or any money, all of their money goes for drugs. An untruth of fear. There have been 6 states that have promoted this idea into laws, laws that have those who need food stamps or welfare take drug tests before they can receive any type of help. I have even read, “I have to have a drug test before I can get a job, they should too before they get any of my tax dollars.” Sounds impressive and something that is to be believed, only it is a statement made out of fear. Those six states mentioned have spent over $1,000,000 for drug tests for those who receive government assistance. Their finding was that less than 1% of those tested failed the test, less than one percent. You might be thinking, Mark, that is a lot of people, except that it isn’t and the national average of those who fail is closer to 9.6 percent. In other words the ones who complain that their tax dollars are being given to drug users fail the drug test at a much higher rate that the ones receiving the support.


I have heard at church board meetings regarding this passage that the poor are just so lazy, they don’t want to work and they will only take the money and buy drugs. Again, fear of lack. The push is if we offer assistance to the poor then we will not have enough for our own family and livelihood. Everywhere you look that is the message that is given. Don’t help the poor because they will hurt you, take advantage of you, they really don’t need your help. The message of fear is widespread and prominent. Why? Because if we believe the message of fear, promote the message of fear, feed the message of fear then we think we will have enough. If we “protect” what we have then it will be alright. Think how we reinforce that message daily. The news can find one person who takes advantage of food stamps and the entire system is full of lazy freeloaders. The poor will be with you always. Less than one percent of those receiving services use drugs and the system is full of lazy freeloaders. The poor will be with you always. Twenty percent of children under 12 go hungry. The system is full of lazy freeloaders. The poor will be with you always.


I recently found out in the state of Oregon a person is not eligible for food stamps for three months if they quit their job. THREE MONTHS!! Why? Fear of lack. We will teach those freeloaders not to quit their jobs and rely on the state for any assistance. They should keep working, even if it is unhealthy, so they can keep food on the table. You know they are lazy or else they could keep a job and want to work. So, for three months the person and family will need to rely on charity organizations, savings, or beg on the street if they want food because there is not enough food to feed someone who has quit their job. After all they quit just so they could have free food. Again, the poor will be with you always. Why does Oregon do this, fear. There is a fear that if we help those who need it we will prolong their laziness and hence prolong their need. If only we give people a swift kick in the butt they will wake up, get a job and not need government assistance. Again, all untruths that we tell ourselves due to our fear. I recently read that the money used on the Iraq war could alleviate hunger worldwide for 30 years. FOR 30 YEARS!! Can you imagine – no hunger anywhere for thirty years? So, guess what happened? There was a debate about how much money has really been spent on the war and how much it would really cost to get rid of hunger. Amazing!! Instead of realizing the way money was misspent for war there is a discussion on the amount spent. You see, if we realize that we could actually alleviate hunger that would remove fear and the grip that fear has on us. The poor will be with you always – make that the hungry too.


Many times I wish Jesus would have been more specific in his comments – I wish he would have removed all narratives but that is not the case. Instead of saying, “The poor will be with you always” I wish he would have told us why. I believe the statement would have been this: “The poor will be with you always because you will fear that there is not enough to go around. The poor will be with you always because you will continue to believe untruths about those who are poor. The poor will be with you always because if you keep them poor you mistakenly will think you are better because you are not them. You will dominate over them and make up various types of false concerns about them. The poor will be with you always not because they are lazy or misrepresent reality or do drugs. Nope, it is none of that. The poor will be with you always because you fear there is not enough to go around and hoard money, food, jobs, health care, and life sustaining love. The poor will be with you always because you will forget what I have said and done and twist your faith to protect your fear. The poor will be with you always because your faith gives space to a Creator who would create “less” than enough. The poor will be with you always because of you, not because of what they have done or will do, not because God said there would always be poor, not because God did not create enough, but because of you and the fear you have that there is not enough.


I have learned that when we fear our needs are not being met. Think about it. When we have fear of lack and we hoard whether it is money, food, or anything – do we ever have enough? No, of course not. Fear does not meet our needs. What we need is understanding that there is enough and that the Divine will provide. We would like to trust that all will be well. In our world of fear this does not happen. Look at our world. Fear of everything and our strategies do not work. There is no peace, not enough food, health care, housing, jobs, etc. There is not enough of anything. Imagine, imagine there is. Imagine there is enough of everything. Go to that place of plenty. When you go there, and stay there, understanding and trust will come and guess what, we will prove Jesus wrong. There will be no more poor. There will be just us, together with plenty. Thank about it.

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