We live in a world where there are enormous inequities. The top 1 percent of the world’s wealthiest individuals now owns 50.1 percent of the world’s wealth.1 As the world’s richest individuals grow richer, it seems mass poverty increases and people’s ability to find basic needs for survival, such as clean water, food, and work, decreases. Our family served for the past five years in the Philippines. It amazed me to see large slums with people in abject poverty while only a few minutes away we could be driving on a brand-new freeway with the latest Ferraris racing past us. Life just is not fair.
One person can’t possibly save them all!
While serving as missionaries in a developing part of the world, we were overwhelmed at times by the great need we saw all around us. When you see so much need, the temptation is to give up. One person can’t possibly save them all! And it is true; by myself, I could not combat such massive inequities in the world. It reminds me that the reason our world suffers from so much inequity is the utter selfishness of humanity. Thankfully, we have hope in Jesus Christ because He did not partake of such a sentiment but took upon Himself human nature to become one of us (Phil. 2:5–8) to save us. When He was born and as He grew up, as this week’s lesson will show us, He lived in abject poverty. Jesus knew what it was like to go hungry and suffer, and in the midst of so much suffering, He still worked to alleviate the suffering of others.
So how could Jesus do this? What was His secret? This week we will look at the example of Jesus, who, one life at a time, showed others about the true character of God—a God of selfless love—who ultimately sacrificed His own life so that we can experience reconciliation and peace with God. No matter what our economic position may be in this world, what counts is to make sure that we secure the riches of eternal life in the kingdom to come. The kingdom of this world, with all of its supposed wealth, will not matter in terms of true heavenly riches—the fruit of the Spirit, including love, joy, and peace, which are the true currency of heaven. After all, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, as the old hymn says, in the light of His glory and grace. We will not be able to take the physical things accumulated on this earth with us to heaven. The example of Jesus reminds us that it is our characters—demonstrated through our everyday actions, including how we treat the poor and marginalized within our sphere of influence—that matters most in the kingdom of heaven.