Solving the Problem of the Poor
SOME religious leaders express themselves so eloquently about today’s problems that people may believe they really know how to improve things. Yet, if politicians and economists have been unable to solve problems, can religious leaders really do better by supporting revolutionary elements?
Church leaders defend their agitating spirit, but not everyone is convinced of their sincerity. Edmund Burke wrote: “It is a general error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.” Is it possible that church leaders are motivated by concerns other than simply a zeal for justice?
The Brazilian magazine Veja claims: “In reality, what the Church desires is power . . . The fact that the world’s riches are concentrated strongly in Protestant, Buddhist, and even atheistic countries forces the Church to try to return to power by the hands of the poor in the Third World.”
But even granting that individual clergymen are not seeking any personal advantage, will the poor be truly benefited by supporting a liberation movement that endorses social activism? Is that the way to solve the problem of the poor?
Pattern Set for True Christians
What example was set by Jesus Christ, the one all true Christians are obligated to imitate? While on earth, he did not involve himself in social reforms, nor did he deviate from his commission to tell others about God’s Kingdom. (Luke 4:43; John 6:15) Even Pope John Paul II, when discussing social activism, noted: “The Gospels clearly show that for Jesus, anything that would alter his mission as the Servant of Yahweh [Jehovah] was a temptation.”
This does not mean that Jesus did not recognize the needs of the poor. He did. “He felt pity for them,” the Bible says, “because they were skinned [or harassed] and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) And he invited those who would follow him: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.”—Matthew 11:28.
A Bible prophecy describes Christ’s Kingdom rule: “He will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.”—Psalm 72:12-14.
Those who would imitate Jesus must therefore have great compassion for the poor and must seek to help them. But how? Since Jesus acknowledged that the present world is under the control of Satan the Devil, he did not attempt to reform it. (Luke 4:5-8; John 12:31; 14:30; 18:36) But he did help the poor by providing them instruction that would help them cope with the problems of life.
Jesus taught his disciples to be resourceful, thus imitating him and his Father. “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working,” he said. (John 5:17) Also, Christ’s followers were instructed about how to take care of themselves and their families by being virtuous, honest, and industrious. (Philippians 4:4-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12) But this was only in preparation for something better: the realization of the blessings of God’s Kingdom.
God’s Kingdom the Only Solution
Indeed, Jesus promoted God’s Kingdom as the only realistic and lasting solution for the problem of the poor and everyone else. What are your thoughts about it? Why do proponents of liberation theology say so little about God’s Kingdom?
The truth is, they have lost faith in the Bible’s promises regarding God’s Kingdom. Yet, when Jesus taught his followers to pray for ‘the kingdom of God to come and for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ he was not providing an illusory hope. That prayer will be answered. God’s Kingdom is a real government. You can be sure that Christ would never have deceived his devoted followers by teaching them to pray for what would never come to pass.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
The apostle Peter was favored with a preview of that heavenly government. This occurred when Jesus was transfigured before Peter and two other apostles on a high mountain. Thus, many years later Peter could write: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence.”—2 Peter 1:16-18.
In a vision, Peter actually saw Christ ruling in that Kingdom of God! “Consequently,” Peter continued, “we have the prophetic word [about the Kingdom, by such prophets as Isaiah and Daniel] made more sure.” (2 Peter 1:19) The prophet Daniel, for example, recorded a vision of Christ’s installation as King when He was “given rulership and dignity and kingdom.” Daniel went on to say: “His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.”—Daniel 7:13, 14.
What does “the prophetic word” say will happen to the present governments of men when God’s Kingdom comes in answer to the prayers of Christ’s followers? Listen to the inspired forecast at Daniel 2:44: “In the days of those kings [the governments now existing] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin [the Kingdom for which Christ taught his disciples to pray]. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [present human governments], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
Truly, this Kingdom of God is mankind’s only hope for solving the problem of the poor! The fact is, humans are incapable of properly ruling their fellowman. History reveals that “man has dominated man to his injury,” regardless of the type of human government that has been tried. As God’s Word long ago indicated, it simply does not belong to man to govern himself independent of God.—Ecclesiastes 8:9; Jeremiah 10:23.
On the other hand, you can be confident that the bounteous blessings described by Isaiah’s “prophetic word” will be fulfilled, namely: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. . . . They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them. And it will actually occur that before they call out I myself shall answer; while they are yet speaking, I myself shall hear.”—Isaiah 65:21-24.
Jehovah God will not use any human efforts or movements, including liberation theology, to bring about these blessings. Instead, his heavenly government will take over and unite all obedient humankind, bringing about righteousness and prosperity. Therefore, keep God’s Kingdom in mind. Put it first in your life. Yes, “it is better to take refuge in Jehovah than to trust in earthling man.”—Psalm 118:8; Matthew 6:33.
[Picture on page 7]
God’s Kingdom will solve the problems of the poor