Christ Was Born into Poverty | Efrem Smith | Exponential

December 29, 2016

The Scriptures are clear that Christ was born into poverty as an oppressed minority. The only begotten Son of God, who was in the beginning as God and with God speaking creation into existence (John 1), came to earth as a Jewish, multi-ethnic, poor, and marginalized human being. This ought to challenge, inform, and guide how the Christian lives in society today. If it indeed is true that Christ sets us free, then shouldn’t all of Christ direct how we live as his liberated followers? We are set free by Christ’s birth, earthly life, death on the cross, and his rising from the grave. God’s work of bringing salvation to sinful and fallen humanity begins with Christ’s birth. How he was born and grew up ought to shape our understanding of living for Christ in this politically, racially, and economically divided world. Our living as citizens of the Kingdom of God is deeply connected to the counter-cultural life that Christ lived on earth. Christ’s birth and upbringing was a threat to oppressive political systems and religious power structures.

[bctt tweet=”Shouldn’t all of Christ direct how we live as his liberated followers?” via=”no”]

If we are open to our Christian lives being informed and guided by the birth of Christ, we must ask the question, “how does Christ being born into poverty as an oppressed minority shape how we live our Christian lives in society today?” Christ was not only born into poverty, he was raised by an earthly working class family. He grew up in the wrong community on the wrong side of town. One of the reasons people questioned his claims of being a King, the Son of God, and the Son of Man is because of where he grew up. Soon after he was born, the leader of an oppressive government system ordered all male babies that looked like Christ to be murdered. This caused Joseph, Mary, and Christ to have to flee into Africa and live as refugees and undocumented immigrants. Will Christians in the United States today allow this journey right on the other side of Christ’s birth to empower how they love refugees and the undocumented today for the advancement of God’s Kingdom?

The birth of Christ and the life he led as he journeyed towards the cross and the resurrection is about the road to our individual salvation and the roadmap of how we live as disciples in this divided and dysfunctional world. How we see the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the immigrant, and the incarcerated is directly connected to how we see Christ. If we see these people falsely then we see Christ falsely. How we treat the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized, the immigrant, and the incarcerated is directly related to our intimacy or lack thereof with God. This truth is shown to us in Matthew 25. Christians whether evangelical or mainline must be set free from the politics of left and right in order to live missionally and humbly among the groups of people that Christ lived among and lived as.

I yearn for a church set free from captivity of left and right wing politics, the social matrix of race, class divisions, and other broken and divisive systems that have caused Christians to compromise the gospel. I will continue to participate in movements of church planting, multiplication, leadership development, and reconciliation that prophetically put the Kingdom of God over the sinful and broken systems of this world.

By Efrem Smith

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