Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Myth of Privilege - Part II

My problem with using the terms privilege and underprivileged, fortunate and less fortunate, is that it sets up a one-sided marketplace.

Just from the words alone, we have declared that there is one party in need and one that has something to offer.

And certainly the poor have needs.
They are indeed under-resourced, in more ways than just money.  The poor may lack money, education, role models, coping strategies, emotional and spiritual resources, access to justice, and much more.

And those with those resources should certainly do all they can to provide access for those who are under-resourced.  There should be a flow of resources from the well-resourced to the under-resourced.

The New Testament speaks frequently to this: Matthew 25:34-40; Luke 14:12-14; Romans 12:13; Romans 15:1-2; James 1:27; James 2:15-17; 1 John 3:17-18; et al.

But that is not the end of the story.  The market does not work just in one direction.  For there is poverty in the "privileged"as well.  As I pointed out last week, the New Testament reveals there is something about being well-resourced that makes accessing the Kingdom of God difficult.

What is that difficulty?  Distraction? Self-sufficiency? Independence? Greed?  Who knows?! Whatever the nature of the hindrance, there is something about the condition of the poor that they are not similarly afflicted.  In contrast, we saw last week that the poor tend to have great strength in their ability to grasp the Kingdom of God.  When it comes to the Kingdom, those with less resources are actually in a position of great strength.

So in the exchange between the resourced and the under-resourced, there is life change that needs to go both ways.  Both the "privileged" and the "under-privileged" have something to offer the other that the other greatly needs.

The under-resourced need resources.
The well-resourced need...perspective?  A clearer vision for the Kingdom of Heaven.

So who is "charity" for?  Both (the under-resourced AND the well-resourced.)
Who really needs "missions trips"? Both 
Who are those in need of a hand? Both

The myth of privilege rests in the belief that the privileged are better off.
What we need to acknowledge is that we ALL have needs, in one way or another.
AND we ALL have something to contribute, which others greatly need.

The market isn't one sided.
It's a bit of an equal exchange, where everyone participates in the giving...and the receiving.