"do as they say, not as they do"

Following up on thoughts on "the anawim and the remnant" from the other day...

It was encouraging to find so many articles and other writing connecting the anawim and the "remnant of Israel," the faithful people of God. But afterward I was left with a shaky feeling. I think this was due to the fact that, for all that is written about this, I didn't find the lives of these authors especially inspiring or helpful. A lot of that has to do, I suppose, with the way the concepts are reinterpreted and used. For the most part, the articles either talk about theological reasons for helping the (actual) poor, or they take the "poor in spirit" approach and the anawim is opened up to include just about anyone ("Aren't we all 'poor' in a way?"). And both of these are disappointing to me.

I agree that the anawim referred to the actual poor, but I think this should be a call for all of us to join them, as Jesus and his disciples did. If the anawim are the remnant, and Jesus' promises of "blessedness" are for them, then why would we just take the position of helping them rather than joining them? And the other interpretation seems worse. I agree that poverty alone does not make the anawim, that it's a matter of trusting God in their need and affliction (poverty of spirit also). But that doesn't allow us to dismiss the economic aspect, Jesus' actual poverty, and all he said about selling all, not storing up treasure on earth, etc. To spiritualize this in a way that tries to include everyone strips it of all meaning. Isn't the point of using the word "remnant" that there are not many left?

And to hear so many promote an idea, but for bad (or hypocritical) reasons, make that idea seem untrue. Even if it is true. Like when wealthy and powerful clergy speak of holy poverty and use that to keep the poor masses down. Because it is preached hypocritically, it comes off sounding false and deceitful, even though it is actually true. When Jesus preached it, it wasn't false or hypocritical. So, while I liked to see the theological and scholarly support for the anawim as the remnant people of God, it was unsettling to see where that support was coming from.

After a couple more days of thought, though, I think I am over my unease. Misinterpretation or misuse does not strip the truth away. The promises are God's, not the theologians' and commentators'. And Jesus' life remains what it was. He became one of the anawim and preached their blessedness and demonstrated the truth of it. So I believe we can risk everything to live and preach the same thing.