Please login to continue
Forgot your password?
Recover it here.
Don't have an account?
Sign Up Now!

Register for an Account

Choose Password
Confirm Password

Thank you for creating an account. You are now logged in.

Poverty and the Image of God

Have you ever stopped and wondered, “How does the nature of God impact the way I live?” This might not be the first question burning in your heart in the morning when you wake up, but it is an interesting question to ponder. How do the attributes of God impact the way I think and the way I live my life? Even more specifically, how do the attributes of God impact the way I think of and view other people? While this might not be a question we come to frequently, it is a question that if taken seriously, could revolutionize the way we live. Leaning into this question begins to shape our identity and our perception of those experiencing poverty.

We Were Made to Reflect the Image of God

Who are you? We are asked this question hundreds—if not thousands—of times throughout our life. It’s a tricky question to answer when you take time to think on it. We often answer this question by listing our credentials, what roles we hold in life, or what we do for work. There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of answers, but they are much more activity-oriented rather than identity-oriented. They might tell a person a lot about you, but they don’t necessarily tell someone who you are.

When we root our identity in our activity, we often feel the weight of disappointment when we fail to meet our goals, or live up to personal, or external expectations. Activity-oriented identity seems great when things are positive but can be devastating when things go wrong. When we engage poverty around us, it’s easy to allow our identity (and therefore, motivation) to be activity-oriented. Again, there is nothing wrong with activity—feeding people is a good thing! But there is another, deeper motivation to engaging poverty, and it has eternal significance.

Each human has an identity that is rooted in something greater than themselves or their activities, and that is our creator God. That’s right, every human draws their dignity and worth from being made in the image of God. These words in Genesis give us this great hope:

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them 
have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the 
livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'” 

Genesis 1:26

God created the heavens and the earth. All of His creation was beautiful and good, but His creation of man was even more special. Nothing else created has the privilege of bearing God’s image. As image bearers, we get to represent and bring glory to the One we represent, and we do so by being able to communicate who God is to the world.

As image bearers, we get to express what are known as God’s communicable attributes. That is, attributes of God that we, as finite humans, can express in our everyday life. These would mostly be attributes that represent God’s moral character like His love, goodness, kindness, wisdom, etc.—we are not able to express His infinite attributes such as His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, infinity, self-existence and tri-unity.

Now, even though there are some attributes of God that we are able to communicate, we know we are not able to communicate them perfectly, as He is. He is the standard for what love, wisdom, kindness, justice etc. are, not us. But all of God’s attributes, both communicable and incommunicable, should impact the way we live, and they should definitely impact the way we view people. So, what does this have to do with poverty? In order to answer this question, we have to understand why God created the world and what sin has done to the world.

God created the world out of an overflow of His love. He did not create the world because He was needy, or lonely; by no means! There was perfect love and perfect fellowship in the Trinity, and it was out of that Love that God created the world—so the world could enjoy this expression of perfect love. However, in the fall of man, this experience of perfect love was ruined by sin. We were created to be God’s representatives in the world, but because of sin, instead of reflecting God through acts of love, we express wickedness through acts of hate. We experience brokenness—like poverty—as a result of this separation from God. Men and women are still image bearers, but that image is broken and in need of repair.

In our brokenness, we often ostracize and marginalize people we deem unworthy and this was never part of God’s original plan. Instead of representing God’s kindness, mercy and love to those around us (like He has), sin causes us to hurt others and watch as others live hurt and broken lives. God wants so much more for us! If left on our own, there would be an endless cycle of poverty and brokenness.

Thanks be to God that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins so that we could be restored into a right relationship with God. When we are restored into a right relationship with God through Jesus, we are able to communicate God’s attributes in a way that brings Him glory. So, if we have placed our faith in Jesus, He calls us to live differently. He calls us to be His ambassadors on this earth, representing Him everywhere we go.

"We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us." 

  2 Corinthians 5:20 

Poverty is not part of God’s original plan, and in our fallen state we often look down on the poor and the outcast, but we shouldn’t. Why? Because each person is still made in the image of God and they have hope for redemption. As followers of Jesus, we get a chance to express the communicable attributes of God in a way that shows God is real and that He cares for the outcast and the lowly—because that’s who we were before God rescued us!

Will you join us in engaging poverty with God-ward motives?

Spiritual poverty often begets physical poverty and our desire at Children’s Hunger Fund is to be positioned by God to reach the least of these with the hope of spiritual and physical restoration. We seek to be reminded of the beautiful attributes of our God, namely his kindness, compassion, love and generosity and allow those to influence the way we engage poverty.

God did not move towards us out of need. No, He moved toward us out of the overflow of His character. Similarly, as believers, we have a call and responsibility to image God rightly by being a gospel light to the poor, demonstrating His character everywhere we go. We remember our God who demonstrated His love, kindness, compassion, forgives, gentleness and grace to us and we, in turn, show that same love to other broken individuals. What a privilege!

So, maybe you didn’t wake up today thinking how the nature of God impacts the way you view poverty. But perhaps tomorrow, you will.