Archive for the tag “Hunger”

Are you starving for God’s justice?

God blesses those who are hungry and thirsty for his justice; they will be completely satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

People who are never starving or dying of thirst will be hard pressed to understand this verse. Those who heard Jesus speak the words, however, understood only too well. They very familiar with what Kenneth Bailey calls “unrelenting hunger and life-threatening thirst.”

Bailey says: “Each day, prompted by hunger and thirst, all people seek food and water, hoping to be satisfied. But for how long? A few hours later, the cravings return. This beatitude makes clear that the bless-ed are those whose drive for righteousness is as pervasive, all consuming and recurring as the daily yearning to satisfy hunger and thirst.”

Many religious people around the world believe righteousness “is no more than adherence to an ethical norm,” Bailey says. To that I would add that most American Christians have not been taught that “righteousness” and “justice” are the same side of the same coin.

Bailey points out that in the Bible, ‘righteousness’ often refers to God’s mighty acts of salvation. Mighty God acted on behalf of the weak and oppressed Hebrew children to rescue them from slavery. Today, God still does justice for people who cannot rescue themselves from captivity, who cannot ever be righteous in their own right. God gives us a new status — “declared righteous.” Bailey says living justly is our human response of gratitude for the verdict of righteousness God gives us as a free gift.

Bailey also notes that ‘righteousness’ in the Bible has nothing to do with “an absolute ideal ethical norm,” but instead is about relationship, and relationships make claims on our conduct: “The unspeakable gracious gift of acceptance in the presence of God requires the faithful to respond,” Bailey says. “The righteous person is the one who acts justly. Furthermore that justice/righteousness is not simply giving every man his due but includes showing mercy and compassion to the outcast, the oppressed, the weak, the orphan and the widow.”

Just as God helped us when we could not help ourselves, we are to help others in desperate need. The way God helped us experience profound life transformation becomes the model for us as we love our neighbors the way we love ourselves.

Bailey adds: “Jesus does not say, ‘Blessed are those who live righteously and maintain a righteous lifestyle.’ The statement presupposes that righteousness is something the faithful continuously strive after.”

Who among us has a passion for justice “as pervasive, all consuming and recurring as the daily yearning to satisfy hunger and thirst”?

And if we aren’t starving for God’s justice in the lives of our neighbors, should we be worried about our own relationship with the God who brought justice to our lives?

Cross-posted at

How can you love and serve the poor if you don’t know the poor?

Eugene Cho writes:

During this election season, there were many conversations going on. They’re all important. … But what has been very troubling for me is the lack of focus and substantive dialogue around domestic poverty.

Why are poor Americans invisible? And if and when it’s discussed, mere numbers and statistics are thrown out…and then on to the next question.

When you break down the numbers, this is the reality: 15% of Americans are living at or near the poverty line. … 1 out of 5 American children face food security issues.

Simple and real talk translation: They are hungry.

For African-Americans and Hispanics, the statistics double. [Let that sink in…]

… What does 1 out of 5 mean? It means approximately 16.7 million American children under the age of 18 live in this situation. 16.7 million children. This, fellow Americans, is not acceptable.

This isn’t to suggest that global issues and children and citizens of the larger world aren’t important or that I’m suggesting that American children are greater than global children. Let’s not go there. … What I’m suggesting is that if we simply open our eyes – these are our kids. They are in our neighborhoods; They are our neighbors; They are in our schools; They are in our churches; They are our friends; They are right here.

How can we seek to love the larger world and ignore our very own neighbors?

When we do speak of the poor, there’s an awkward but at times, subtle judgment about the poor. While we cheer thunderously any time the “military” is mentioned in political speeches and debates, the audience turns quiet when the mention of the “poor” comes up? Whether it is articulated or not, there are judgments made in the larger mainstream discourse and perhaps we’ve allowed ourselves to believe it.

The poor are poor because they deserve it? The poor got what they deserved because they are lazy? “They are a bunch of folks taking advantage of the welfare system. They are stealing and cheating from this country. We shouldn’t help those who won’t help themselves.”

While there are clearly real stories of real people abusing the welfare system, we are making an egregious mistake when we allow one story or the stories of some to filter all the stories of real people.

Eventually, we start dehumanizing the poor.

And when you start dehumanizing the poor, you have no desire to build relationships with them. You have no interest in their stories. You have no interest in relationships. You believe stereotypes that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Listen: When we’re not interested in building genuine mutual relationships, you rob people of their dignity and they become projects and not people. They become statistics and not reflections of our selves.

Listen: How can you love and serve the poor if you don’t even know the poor?

Read the full post by clicking here.

If (fill in the blank) was a country …

By Jeff Palmer

Bear with me. I’m going to play a game. I’m going to play “If _________ was a country…” I’m going to fill in the blank with some odd but thought-provoking subjects.

— If poverty was a country, it would by far be the largest country in the world. Over 40 percent of the world lives in either moderate or absolute poverty. That would be a population of 2.8 billion. The two largest countries in the world today (China and India) combined wouldn’t even reach that number.

— If absolute poverty was a country, it would be one of the top three largest countries in the world. It would have about 1.1 billion people. Absolute poverty is defined as people who live on less than one US dollar per day. I wonder if some dictator would even want to take it over?

— If hunger was a country, it would be the third largest country in the world at 900 million. It would almost make up three times the population of the USA. I wonder if it were country, would it be as invisible to the rest of the world as it is today?

— If refugees and internally displaced persons were a country, it would be much smaller. Only about 80 million and would rank around No. 15 in population in the world. Imagine 80 million people living in UN tents, depending 100 percent on handouts for their daily existence.

— If HIV/AIDS was a country, it would have “only” 35 million people. Of course that wouldn’t count the 15 million orphans left behind by parents who have died of this horrible disease. I guess the only reason this country is not growing quickly is that the death rate is so high.

— If people without adequate access to water were a country, it would make up about one out of every 7 persons alive on the earth today. Thirsty, anyone?

— And finally, if 50 percent of the wealth and consumption of goods of the world were a country, it would strangely look like the United States, which is actually only 4 percent of the world’s population.

I don’t know what it is to live in the country of poverty or hunger. I have not had to flee my home and country. I have good health and easy access to drinking water. And I am a one of those 4 percent who consume 50 percent of the world’s resources.

I wonder what, if anything, all of this means.

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Jeff Palmer (@jjeffreypalmer) is executive director of Baptist Global Response. World Hunger Sunday is Oct. 14. Learn more by clicking here.

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