The God weencounter in scripture is none too keen on unequal societies. Okay, the Old Testament has its fair share of wealthy patriarchs and monarchs, and more than a few slaves, widows, and orphans existing alongside them. But when some live in opulence while others can't even meet their basic needs, God takes a dim view. Indeed, as biblical archaeology shows, it's at those times that the prophets speak most urgently.
Actually, both testaments are clear on this. Whether it's a passage about the provision of manna in the wilderness, or the requirements of the Jubilee, or the apostle’s call to the Corinthians to share with a poorer fellowship, or the practice of the Jerusalem church in Acts 4, the message is the same: A community where the gap between rich and poor is entrenched, and where even one person becomes dependent upon others, is bad for all in that society.
What about our societies today? As the gulf between the haves and have-nots continues to widen, within nations as well as between the developed and developing world, are churches speaking a prophetic, healing word? They should, because the biblical writers don't advocate narrowing the wealth gap just for its own sake. They know that societies are stronger and safer when that happens.
But perhaps we were waiting for some scientific as well as biblical evidence for this? Well, now we've got it, in the form of a well-researched, authoritative, and clearly written study by British academics Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett called The Spirit Level.