GMHC and Entitlement

gmhc-2013Greetings from Louisville, Kentucky!  Four out of the five authors are here at the Global Missions Health Conference 2013, where many of us met for the first time.  We are excited to make new friends, catch up with old ones, and discuss some of the future planning for this growing blog.

In the evening’s first plenary session, Dr. Brian Fikkert, co-author of “When Helping Hurts“, gave a sobering overview of how our perspectives on poverty determine our approaches to the people we encounter living with it.  In short, if we view it as primarily an issue of material deprivation, we will attempt to “fix it” with a compensatory financial response.  However, the issues are never that isolated and are always rooted in other issues, such as broken relationships with God, with others in our community, and with ourselves.  In exploring these roots, we find that we ourselves, the so-called “helpers”, are also impoverished and that only through the reconciliation brought through the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all sectors of life can we hope to find true and lasting transformation.

It reminded me of an old post on Entitlement (excerpt here):

One of the most dif­fi­cult things I’ve strug­gled with since mov­ing [into the inner city] has been a sense of enti­tle­ment. That word is not one I ever hear from those liv­ing here, mainly because it’s never used in a pos­i­tive con­text. It is typ­i­cally in ref­er­ence to “hand­outs to the poor” and finds its anchor­ing in food stamps and other poverty-related imagery, even though the largest enti­tle­ment pro­grams in the US are Medicare and Social Secu­rity (which merit the name sim­ply because they are guar­an­teed payouts/benefits from the gov­ern­ment, even if they are drawn from money you put in pre­vi­ously through your pay­check). I hear it mainly from politi­cians these days, peo­ple who want you to believe that such hand­outs are not only unmer­ited but expected. It is meant to inspire you with a sense of injus­tice: that there are deserv­ing vic­tims and unde­serv­ing free­load­ers, there are hard­work­ing bene­fac­tors that just need a hand and lazy ingrates who not only feed off the sys­tem but feel that the ben­e­fit is owed to them…

The true real­ity of our human con­di­tion is that we are all impov­er­ished, that there is noth­ing that we deserve or have earned by per­sonal right or vig­i­lance. We are fools to think oth­er­wise. Pol­i­tics gets it all wrong; it is not that 47% feel enti­tled, or that 99% are dis­en­fran­chised or that 1% hoard the wealth. We are 100% impov­er­ished in demo­graphic, in spirit, and in human condition.

Who will lib­er­ate me? How am I freed from this body of death? In Jesus Christ, we find the secret to con­tent­ment, the efface­ment of enti­tle­ment. Through the will­ing and inten­tional iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with Christ and his suf­fer­ing, I choose to allow the rev­e­la­tion of the self­ish and human-centered desires of my heart and through that twinge of self-righteousness and enti­tle­ment, under­stand the audac­ity and mag­ni­tude of the self-emptying suf­fer­ing of Jesus Christ.

P.S.  If you would like to share thoughts about your own experiences or reflections on the inner city, send them to us to publish!  E-mail admin@theurbanresident.com.

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