Friday, September 20, 2019

The Poor are Leaving the Church

A priest writing in a bulletin for priests, mentions a talk given by a professor to a group on Christianity in Korea. He cited the worship of idols as a problem in the Korean church. According to a Christian Yearbook, the largest church congregations in the world many of them are Korean churches.

Growth in the materialization of the church does not find a place in the teaching of Jesus. The bigger, the more the better are not necessarily Christian values. Also, the issue of handing down the leadership of the church to the relations is a problem we see appearing in Korean Christianity. This is said to be the practice in over 300 churches and mostly in rich churches. Idolatry of the golden calf instead of God. No matter how developed the economy, materialism does not bring happiness, and the less developed, with true Christian values pursued, a good society will come, said the professor.

One of the Apostolic Delegates of the past pointed out the lack of a spirit of poverty as a major problem of the Korean church. Cardinal Kim Soo-hwan said that the Korean church is like the rich man in the Bible. It is about a young man who refused the call of Jesus because he was rich.

If you are tied to matter, you cannot follow Jesus. In fact, the church is far from the poor in society. Surveys show that the percentage of farmers and poor people coming to church is very small. The situation of the poor is difficult, the church doesn't intentionally alienate them, but they are alienated. Poor people may be blamed, but the church lacks the spirit of poverty and instead of feeling comfortable within the church they feel burdened and alienated.

In many of the churches in the West, we see the numbers decreasing. There are many reasons for this, but it is important to keep an eye on this process of alienation. In the course of the decline, the poor and workers left the church first. Then the intellectuals left criticizing the church, and finally, the believers left, emptying the churches.

It is a real problem that the poor can't find their place within the church and are leaving. Jesus sought out the poor and was with them and since the church is not finding room for the poor is this not telling us that something is wrong with the way we are living the Christian life?

Throughout the Bible, we are taught not to worship idols. And from the beginning of history, one of the biggest idols has been riches. Even now people keep on racing towards materialism. Years ago statistics showed that 85% of Koreans set their standard of happiness on wealth. Finding God in such a climate is difficult. Material matters are precious and necessary, however, believers are never satisfied with the material but need to go beyond the material to our brothers and sisters and God.

"How happy the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5, 3).

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