Saturday, February 28, 2009

Caught Between Abundance and Poverty

In today's devotion, Nouwen writes, "To live a spiritual life does not mean that we must leave our families, give up our jobs, or change our ways of working..." (pg. 24)

But in yesterday's devotion Nouwen writes, "We don't mind paying attention to poor people from time to time; but descending to a state of poverty and becoming poor with the poor, that we don't want to do. And that is the way Jesus chose as a way to know God..." (pg. 19-20)

On the one hand, we don't have to give up everything to live spiritually.  On the other, becoming poor with the poor is to know God.  


Levi left everything.

What about his commitments? What about his family?  Did he become poor with the poor?  Did he have to leave everything to live spiritually?  Or was his a unique, individual a burning bush?

So I'm caught between the abundance I have in Christ and the sacrifice that is the cross.

Should I become poor with the poor?  Or should I try to live spiritually without giving up everything?

Nothing we have is ours any way.  Right?

Which path do you recommend?  Why?


  1. I was wondering the same thing!! I always struggle with the many contradictions in the Bible, but that's what gets us thinking, which is a good thing. I don't have the answer - I just keep reading, questioning, thinking - and living in a way that I hope pleases God.

  2. Another of the tensions which we never settle and with which we live constantly. Only the most smug among us belive that we have it all figured out, that we never have to ponder, to debate, pray, to seek. What I have found in my own journey is that today the lesson for me might be found in abundance and I must live and seek in that direction. Tomorrow the lesson for me may well be in poverty and in my descending. One day I am to let my light "shine before men (sic)." The next day I am to pray in secret, give in secret, fast in secret. And I pray for the wisdom to know which is which.

  3. Thank you both for your feedback!

    Dr. Matthews, I'm hearing Ecclesiastes 3 in what you're writing, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven..."

    I like that a lot. That motivates us to stay engaged and active and seeking. And helps us let God be God.