Thursday, December 3, 2015

Day 5 - The feet of the poor, the steps of the needy

On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
   he sets up victory
   like walls and bulwarks.
Open the gates,
   so that the righteous nation that keeps faith
   may enter in.
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—
   in peace because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord for ever,
   for in the Lord God
   you have an everlasting rock.
For he has brought low
   the inhabitants of the height;
   the lofty city he lays low.
He lays it low to the ground,
   casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
   the feet of the poor,
   the steps of the needy.  - Isaiah 26:1-6

There's an old saying that God surely must love poor people because he made so many of them. While it is true that the poor probably outnumber the rich by a sizeable margin, we seem to pay an inordinate amount of attention to the rich and famous. When you look at the newspaper, all the adulation and focus generally goes to Hollywood personalities and gazillionaires, even if they are seen as boors, bigots, and self-centered human beings. Poor people usually only get the attention if they commit crimes -- or are the victims of them.

While there are a number of very rich and prominent people who are practicing Christians, there are probably more poor ones because faith is something that isn't measured in dollars or BMWs or Armani suits. Sometimes faith is the only thing the poor have got. That was true of the early Christians (although some were rather well off) and continues into our time. Faith helps them soldier on when the going is tough.

Many times in the Hebrew Bible prophets have declared that the high places would be cast down and the valleys raised up.  Same with prosperous cities who did not share their wealth or people who ignored those in need. When people live in a place where the concept of limited resources is a common belief, it's the one who dies with the most toys who wins. If I get more than you, then there is less available for you to try to even the score. There is only so much to go around, and when it's all gone, it's all gone. The rich, even in a land and time of unlimited resources, want to make sure they get the lion's share and continue accumulating. Meanwhile the poor just stay put or sink deeper into poverty.

In God's kingdom, though, everything is turned upside down.  The rich are moved down to the foot of the table and the hungry poor people are seated higher up. The cities of the rich and powerful will be thrown down and those living outside its walls will be let in to replace the rulers who kept them out.

The feet of the poor and the steps of the needy will announce the coming of the Kingdom of God because God will lead them there.  Advent is a good time to think about where our footsteps are going and where we are in the scheme of the kingdom work.  Maybe it's time to trade in the Pradas,  Guccis, and Christian Laboutins for the cheapest possible shoes and use the rest of the money to lift up those who could really use the boost.

I bet more will march into Zion with bare feet than with Naturalizers or the latest basketball hero-endorsed athletic footwear, and their humility will place them at the head of the line. Somehow I think God will not be checking to see how well someone is shod but rather for dust and calluses from the road. When it is our turn for God's inspection, what will our feet show? 

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