Part C - Re-location: Taking poverty personally as neighbours
There is no other way to get involved in the task of neighbourhood transformation than moving into the neighbourhood. This section is all about incarnation, as Ash says, “To only talk about the gospel of God’s reign domesticates it to another ideology. The reign of God must be lived out as a neighbour if it is to catch on in the hearts and lives of the poor.” It is clear that poverty is in many ways the result of bad and broken relationship. Relationship breakdown between man and God, man and creation and man and man. However as Christians we can offer hope and reconciliation through Jesus, not just with words but with our whole lives. As both poor and non-poor Christians we can offer this hope, but the greatest challenge is for the non-poor. Will we stand in solidarity with the poor, “joining our lives together to fight injustice, to have a stake in a common future together”?
Our example of the incarnation obviously comes from Christ himself, in being born and living amongst us on the earth he was literally the en-fleshment of God. We have a vision of the kingdom of God lived out through Jesus to model ourselves on. While this provides us with an incredible resource it also has limitations. Ash points out that we cannot be God and no matter how hard we try, those of us born non-poor will never be able to become truly poor. This doesn’t render the model of the incarnation useless however, because even though we cannot be God, when we form as the body of Christ we function this way and although we cannot become poor we can “stand in solidarity with the poor and movements ‘of’ the poor.”
This concept of being the body of Christ should open our eyes to the fact that this task is not one we go about ourselves or fit into our existing schedules. It requires us to be relationally and geographically amongst those we are seeking to serve and journey with as we carry out the task in community. We will have to work hard and be creative in the ways we build this community, intentionally making ourselves accessible and available to others.