In December of 2006 AP released this report:
The suburban poor outnumbered their inner-city counterparts for the first time last year, with more than 12 million suburban residents living in poverty, according to a study of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas released Thursday.
Where I live, suburbs of Chicago, I don't see a lot of poverty. There are few visible homeless people but, as this report shows, poverty runs deeper than not having a home.
I mentioned this to a friend and he told me about several people in the suburbs who have an immaculate house on the outside while the inside is complete bare! Imagine the beautiful lawn and suburban-perfect design. On the outside they belong to the neighborhood and meet all the cultural codes. But you walk inside the house and it is a mess. It's like the line from a Denison Witmer song
"Outside the homes line up straight
But inside they aren’t that way"
I imagine this is what the poverty in the suburbs looks like. Pleasant on the outside but empty on the inside. We are so clever with hiding our needs and dressing up the things that don’t really matter. It reminds me of what Jesus told the Pharisees,
Luke 11:40, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness."
It’s sad but as I drive by the suburban houses I pray for them. I don’t know how many of those houses are bare on the inside. But I’m not praying for IKEA furniture, I’m praying for a heart that releases it’s façade of self-sufficiency. The real poverty of our nation, in the suburbs and the city, is our denial of a need for God.