RICHES TO RAGS
God is counter culture. He moves in unexpected ways because he doesn’t operate from the culture’s values. His ways are radical to our thinking.
When Jesus came to earth he intentionally, and continually, demoted himself to accomplish our redemption. The second person of the trinity left the cozy confines of heaven where he was worshipped and adored… entered his own creation as an embryo… born to a poor family in a remote part of the world… to live as a servant to all by dying the death of a criminal… as a sacrifice for all of mankind (Phil. 2:5-8). He, who was rich, became poor so that we, through his poverty, might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
God expects his followers to do the same (Phil. 2:5). Jesus said, we are to pick up our cross and follow him… from Riches to Rags.
A wonderful story of Riches to Rags transpired in Fort Worth, Texas a number of years ago. A book was written to capture the work of God. It’s called, “Same Kind of Different as Me.”
It’s the story of a rich couple whose marriage was broken and the surprising method God used to put it back together. God put it on the wife’s heart to volunteer at the Fort Worth Rescue Mission and her husband reluctantly agreed to help solely at her request.
It’s the story of how God exposed to this mega-rich, international art dealer that his own heart was broken and needed healing. God uses unconventional methods. He used a broken, cold-hearted, poor man at the mission to reach a broken, cold-hearted, rich man.
It’s an inspirational story of how these two men developed a friendship and both were healed through that relationship. It shows what broken people in places like skid row really need to be healed is functional relationships. It shows what broken people in the comfortable surroundings of material wealth need most are functional relationships.
I read this book and it was one of the catalysts to leave my role as a pastor in a comfortable environment to go to minister to the poor in downtown LA on Skid Row. This is what my vision for this ministry is all about… to connect Riches to Rags for the healing of both groups of people. We need each other and we shouldn’t be segregated because of our economic status and our distinct neighborhoods. I believe it’s incumbent upon the Rich to go to the Rags to initiate this needed merger for the benefit and healing of both.
This week I had the opportunity to attend the National Rescue Mission Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Our hotel is on the St James Riverfront. This is the only River in North America that flows north (Those in Florida will say it's cause is that Georgia sucks)... But the point is that it reminds me that we are to be counter culture.
It was exciting to see so many who are on the same journey doing the same work all over the United States. It was exciting to see our CEO receive the first ever Nehemiah Award for exemplary leadership in the community to champion the cause of the disenfranchised. It was exciting to hear some excellent messages from those with experience in the trenches.
However, the most exciting thing was to sit at the dining table with the director of the Fort Worth Mission and hear about his personal friendship with Denver Moore, the broken man living in poverty at the mission that was the inspiration of the book. We exchanged contact information and began a new relationship ourselves. I walked away with a good reminder why God called me to literally move to this place and this type of ministry.
If you haven’t read the book, I’d encourage you to do so. It has been made into a major motion picture by Paramount to be released in the first quarter of 2017 starring Renee Zellweger, Jon Voight, and Greg Kinnear.
But the thing I want to get across most is this concept of how God himself moved from the comfortable position of Riches to the risky, sacrificial position of Rags. He went slumming. It was the only way to save us. He did not send a representative. He chose to do it himself through incarnation.
Jesus calls his followers to incarnational ministry as well. Will you move out of your comfort zone to incarnational, relational kingdom work? If you need a place to serve via building a life-changing relationship, contact me. I have lots of broken friends here at Skid Row who would love to meet you and become your friend. Will you join me in what Jesus is doing and move from Riches to Rags?