The wealthy, middle, and poor classes will always exist. We all fall into one of four groups: those who excel, those who manage, those who can’t compete, and those won’t.
I’ll prove that the reason the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is NOT economic injustice, but God’s design for the world. Poverty is the result of a truth problem in either our apprehension or application. There is more than enough to go around, the rich are not taking it all, we all reap according to our skill.
Let’s look at the four groups.
Those that can’t compete are those who possess some loss of ability (physical, cognitive, age, disease) and are simply not capable of achieving the tasks required for work and production. These are the most vulnerable of society and are a group for which all voters/citizens agree should receive government resources.
There are those who CAN compete, but are at a disadvantage in a modern world due to racism, sexism, educational and IQ disparity, or cultural/geographical obstacles. While they can engage in business for resources, many in the US have discovered they can gain more resources from the government than by their means of production and use their disadvantage as an excuse not to produce. Voters disagree sharply over this group.
Those who excel have a very different worldview to all others. Since they can produce more resources in a free market than a government can provide, they view the government as an inhibitor rather than a benefactor and vote accordingly. Their success is not guaranteed. They must leverage any advantage they do possess to remain valuable to the marketplace; and that is where corruption of power enters the equation.
For all people, race, wealth, community, education, IQ, and health all aid in spinning the flywheel of production. The more advantages one has, the faster and more they can produce and thus earn.
Production is linked to citizenship. It’s not the basis, but it is linked. Each citizen brings value to the whole society while society places value on what each citizen brings. It’s a bi-directional responsibility.
Jesus uses these classes to teach a very valuable lessen about citizenship in God’s larger kingdom, namely: Production is linked to citizenship. It’s not the basis, but it’s linked.
There is a profound spirituality to production. Too often we hear about how struggle and poverty are the gateway to spiritual awakening. If this awakening doesn’t move us into production for the sake of others, the seed has died within us. In our world, wealth generators and earners are vilified and seen as having lost spiritual depth. I’ll prove that their success is really only possible because of the spiritual awakening they possess. It’s not just luck or corruption.
Luke 19:11-27 and Matthew 25:14-30 each tell a similar story of these categories of citizens. The amount of production is not important, but the disposition to produce is vital. The category that did nothing (could produce but chose not to) despised their king for making them work (Luke 19:14) and they didn’t think it was fair that some had so much more wealth than they did (v.25).
In Lukes account everyone got the same amount to invest. In Matthew’s version each received according to their ability. In both accounts, the unproductive citizen reveals a spiritual framework of fear and apathy. This cannot be understated. This is the biggest difference between the groups. Fear and apathy are a spiritual disposition that diminishes ones capacity to even try. Thus they are blind to their opportunities and become dependent on the State.
The bible is clear about caring for the widow, the orphan, the refugee and the poor. And while these are often the most vulnerable of society, their marginalized status does not mean they cannot produce in the marketplace or Kingdom. These parables of Jesus illuminate that those who use any excuse to dismiss their responsibility to produce, are not only diminishing their own humanity, but show hatred for their king.
The flywheel principle is a spiritual truth exposed here. “Those who have, more will be given, and those who have not, even what they have will be taken away (v.26).” This seems severe, unfair, or even cold, but it’s a spiritual truth that is grasped by all who join the spirituality of production. The kingdom depicted in scripture is place where equal effort of all is required, but equal return for that effort is varied.
Income disparity proves the rule. We all start with the same spiritual support but we all have different opportunities. Our gift to the world is to bring our creative impulse into production for the sake of others and in return we will grow what what we started with. It doesn’t matter if a CEO makes 1000 times more than me, what matters is that I engage in business (give my life away) until an account of this business is required.
For those who hate this system, you have every reason to fear. Those who don’t want this kind of kingdom to rule over them are engaged in self-slaughter (Luke 19:27). Economic despair is the first indication that our disposition (soul) toward production is out of tune. Protesting will not dislodge this fundamental reality.
Your life is valuable. Your story is integral to the vitality of our cities. We are all required to know ourselves, find our gift and give it away for the sake of others. Anything less and we are not a citizen, but a plunder.
Harsh words for sure, but not as harsh nor severe as economic struggle. We seem to embrace one or the other.