People Who Are Rich
The Bible is unambiguous (meaning it couldn’t be more clear) about God’s concern for the poor. “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land” (Deut. 15:11). Christians, and all those of good will, recognize the privileged place of the poor in God’s sight. The poor and suffering remind us that the son of God became poor for our sake. “Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5). In loving and serving the poor, we have the beautiful opportunity to love and serve Christ.
However, a concern for the poor may carry with it a prejudice against the wealthy, meaning that the rich are not as “good” as the poor. This could include thoughts such as “they have more money than they deserve” or “they got their wealth at the expense of the poor.” Maybe it is found that the rich are simply not as loveable as the poor. But nobody says that the rich should be loved less than the poor. The poor are indeed held in the heart of God as are the wealthy. What we might find is that the rich are also poor, but in other ways.
Oftentimes rich people are lonely and struggle with a sense of being used. They suffer from feelings of rejection or depression just like everyone else and just like everyone else, the wealthy need attention and care too. “The roots of loneliness are very deep and cannot be touched by optimistic advertisement, substitute love images, or social togetherness. They find their food in the suspicion that there is no one who cares and offers love without conditions and no place where we can be vulnerable without being used.” (Henri Nouwen) Wealthy people can suffer from irrational thoughts such as, “The only thing people see in me is money” or “I stay in my little circle because as soon as I leave it people say I am rich.” Wealthy individuals may come to believe that they are only loved because of their money but of course that is not all that is there. They have hopes and dreams and fears. They want to share who they are in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. This is the wealthy individual’s poverty, wanting to be known and needing that attention and care.
Wealthy individuals want to work for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and they want to build a community of love just like anybody else. And like anybody else, they can become trapped into a way of thinking that creates poverty in their spirit and just as challenging to them as material poverty. Yet the wealthy want to let something happen that is greater than they are individually. Those with nothing can minister to those with plenty, just as those with plenty can minister to those with nothing. The rich are poor too and by asking for something from them, they need to be loved too. The relationship that is offered between those that have and those that do not, is one that will hopefully bring both closer to God.