Bono on The Poor
I've posted in the past on what Bono thinks about Grace vs Karma. I recently ran across some of his comments at at the National Prayer Breakfast (HT: Addison Road):
A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord’s blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it… I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea…I think Bono is on to something here. The Christian calling is not primarily one where we come up with our agenda (to help God out), and then ask him to bless it. Rather, it first and foremost involves looking around us to see where God is already working, and going there with him.
And this wise man said: stop. He said, stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Get involved in what God is doing—because it’s already blessed. Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing. And that is what He’s calling us to do.
In other words, it means reorienting our lives around his redemptive work.
Now in Bono's case, I'd probably disagree slightly over his application - not that we shouldn't help the poor, but rather on the nature of what that help looks like. I don't think God's work precludes humanitarian aid - rather, it goes far beyond it.
Jesus did not come simply to solve peoples' hunger issues. Instead, he cames to us in our hunger and thirst (and make no mistake, we all hunger and thirst for something) and he tells us that these things point to something greater - a hunger and thirst which can only be satisfied in him. But Jesus doesn't stop there - he meets our physical needs as a sign and token that he will also meet our spiritual appetites as well.
So as Christians, we should agree with Bono in his call to address global poverty and sickness. At the same time, we must go further, to remind people that simply meeting the physical issues is not enough. We can only find true satisfaction and fulfillment in life when we deal with our spiritual hunger.
This is how God designed it. And this is where God is working. He is working to redeem impovereished people, and the primary context of that redemptive work is the church living missionally in society.
So Bono's method (do what God is doing, because that work is already blessed) is spot on. But his application falls a little short, because he hasn't looked closely enough at how God is meeting the needs of the poor (by using his church to build the church, through missional, redemptive, gospel-driven life in the midst of an unbelieving society).
This method is at the heart of how we think about church planting - we see God coming missionally and redemptively to a world of unbelief, and so we see the role of the church to live missionally and redemptively in our own local worlds of unbelief.
Like I said at the beginning - I think Bono's on to something here. After all, unbelief is the deepest form of poverty.