At Cake and Chat, our weekly social group of school parents, church folk and random parishioners, we were talking about Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals to change the government’s definition of child poverty. Our parish ranks in the bottom 2.5% of parishes in the country for deprivation, so we are all familiar with poverty and its effects.
The general consensus was that poverty is not absolute – the amount of money someone has does not define how poor their life is, and especially how poor their children’s lives are. We see many parents with little money whose children are doing brilliantly – growing up with aspirations and discipline. And we know others whose children are not doing so well. Some of this is related to the amount of money available, but mostly it is to do with how that money is directed, and many other factors to do with the ability of parents to raise their children to escape poverty.
The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. Matthew 26v11
Poverty is in many ways an attitude of mind, but there will always be those who cannot escape it. As Christians we follow the God who chose poverty so that we might become rich, and that is why we choose to live in the inner city – so we can offer the riches of Christ to those who know the reality of poverty.
Yesterday I listened to Mez McConnell’s story of grace (I’m going to be ordering his book too). He grew up in the most heart wrenching poverty – not just financially, but in almost every way you could think. What transformed him and turned his life around was not a government scheme or piles of cash. It was the gospel.