Jayakumar Christian believes that when battling extreme poverty, the church should begin with a “Theology of Anger,” not blind hope.
“The people of God in India are working to transform the 1.2 billion people, just like Jesus did, by taking our position among the poor,” the Partnership Leader, Faith & Development with Chennai-based World Vision India told his audience at last year’s Movement Day.
Appreciative of Movement Day’s accomplishments and global success, he warned his audience against reaching a position of over-confidence. “Movement Day must choose intentional powerlessness. If you choose a position of power, you will only make sense to those in power,” he said.
Dr. Christian added that following God’s plan often means being unpopular. “Sacrifice is an awkward choice. That is why the church will always be the scorn of the fools. We will always be the center of the joke. Movements are always born in margins. Monuments are constructed in the center.”
The poor have the right to dream dreams, but the world crushes them, telling them they have “no right” to their aspirations, Dr. Christian said. The church’s role among the poor includes restoring that God-given right because everyone has the right to dream.
Much of his address drew upon David’s journey in Psalm 39 and its relationship to the poor and vulnerable. “David is conscious of the wickedness in society. He’s deeply conscious that he is present among the wicked.”
An unconquerable restlessness is essential to survival in the margins of society. To fight poverty in Haiti, Mosul and other cities and nations struggling with devastation, “You and I need a theology of anger. Without a theology of anger, a theology of hope is impossible,” he said.
“Remember, you are the answer to those prayers for those in the margins. The church corrects the message that god isn’t interested in the poor.”
More Than Social Programs
Addressing the problems of poverty involves much more than creating a few good social programs, Dr. Christian added. “This is about truth and righteousness. The church is in the business of dismantling the domination system. We need a church that cries over our cities.”
We, as the church, must constantly question our power and any pursuit of popularity. Instead, to have an impact among the poor, the church and organizations like Movement Day must be “weak kneed, feeble of hand and prone to failure…in order to serve the powerless. We need a spirituality with dirty hands.”
Continuing to channel David’s message, Dr. Christian added that as a people we must remember, “My engagement is an act of obedience. I am only a signpost; I am never a destination. If our bones don’t burn…it will never give life.”
He concluded this analogy to David’s journey in Psalm 39 is to recognize that God is already working among the poor, “the question then is what is the church doing? God is already there.”
Psalm 39 hinges on Verse 7, he said, a recognition hope is in us and
involves acts of obedience.
Though he endorses a “theology of anger” and believes too many Christians are eager to “take cover under a theology of hope,” Dr. Christian did leave his audience with an optimistic message.
“God has not abandoned the poor. The evidence is the presence of a local church (the poorest neighborhoods).”