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Søren Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses: The Care of Poverty

10 Aug

The Christian Discourses of Kierkegaard make up some of his most amazing works in that they are worded in such a way that they have the ability to make the worried man feel better. Poverty is such an issue that is the concern of many people worldwide and the things said in this discourse are only things that can comfort the reader. Having first read this, certain Bible verses come to mind that his philosophy takes root in, and noticing that makes me feel even better about the message Kierkegaard aims to set forth with this discourse.

The discourse begins by saying this care (the care of poverty) is not a care that the bird has. He proceeds to state that the bird lives on heavenly bread that never goes stale. This heavenly bread being what the bird’s liveliness is and that which it only has enough to survive with. Because of the fact that the heavenly bread is scarce and only comes when the bird needs it, the bird has little, and therefore is poor, but the key is in the fact that the bird does not give recognition to the fact that he is poor. Kierkegaard states that the lack of care about the state of poverty in the bird needs to be transferred to the humans that are poor, because we should put trust in the lord concerning what we eat and drink. The bird does not care about his poor state, and nor should we because of the trust we have put in God’s hands. Kierkegaard infers that because of our ability to put all trust in God concerning what we will eat and drink, we are not therefore poor, but we have so many heavenly riches, that we are of the most rich state. Because of all the aforesaid things: “Therefore you should not worry and say: What will we eat or what will we drink?- for all such things the pagans seek”(Kierkegaard). The pagans seek these things because they are not able to have the heavenly riches that the Christian has of putting our trust in the hands of God. Finally the bird is then displayed as being carefree because it is so poor and yet does not worry about it.

There are great verses in the Bible that set forth the same principles, and inspire the reader to trust and love God. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,  with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” and ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” -Philippians 4: 4-7 and Philippians 4: 13. These two parts of Philippians are what I use to govern most of my life, and it helps a lot when you are worrying about your life, and are uncertain about the future about what will put food on the table. Kierkegaard and many pastors refer to the bird and ask if the bird (another of God’s creatures like yourself) questions where it gets its food and drink when people are going through rough times. I first heard this when my pastor of my church did a sermon on this part of Philippians and why we should not worry about our lives if we have full trust in God. The bird has heavenly bread because he does not worry about his poor state, and he continuously has food to eat and water to drink. People, being more complex in the head, are prone to worrying about our lives when times get hard. God answers us with those verses in Philippians.  Using the bird and asking us “does the bird worry about where it gets its food? And yet the bird always survives..” is really helpful to people in a state of deep worry. Examining the mindset of the bird and its poor state is key to seeing why God does not want us to worry, and is key in understanding the answer to our worries.

I could continuously preach about how Philippians and the bird are shown to tell us to not worry, but the main proposition in the Christian Discourse Care of Poverty by Kierkegaard is that whatever cares we have based on poverty or other concerns, can be dealt with by putting all of our trust in God and stopping the worry. If we do this we are actually in a state of great riches (heavenly riches that is). It is my opinion however that to confidently put our worries and trust in God’s hands and expect all to work out perfectly, we must have given our lives to God for salvation, be living a righteous life in the eyes of God, and continuously repenting of our sins. We must be doing all of these things or at least trying our very hardest to be doing all of these things if we want our worries and trust to be correctly handled in the cosmos. If we are living a hypocritical life, and not trying at all to be what God wants us to be, and expect that He meet our worries and trust with good things, we are sadly mistaken. We will always sin, and do bad things, but if we are making a conscious effort to thwart sin, and making a conscious effort to repent of the sins, God recognizes it and treats the person well for it. If we are making a good conscious effort in all of these things, we can be confident that our worries of poverty, and that our trust in Him will be handled the best way possible. The verses in Philippians confirm this proposition.

These Philippians  verses in the Bible and Kierkegaard’s Discourse on the Care of Poverty make it known how bad it is to worry obsessively and to not put our trust in anything but ourselves. The verses and the discourse make it known how much of a bad thing it is to worry without trusting in God. At the same time it reveals another reason that God is such a loving and amazing God.  Kierkegaard is amazing for having written these things in a distinct Christian discourse.

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