I have a hard time understanding how people who live with so much, as we do, think that they can get by without judgment when people live like this (at a Guatemala city dump). Some people choose poverty. But there are people right here next to us that have not chosen this. And if we turn our backs on them, we are turning our backs on Christ. -Rich Mullins
I want to talk about something that has been burning in my heart for a long time now. First let me give you some back story – For years I had the false mindset that the direct result of faith in God was prosperity, safety and comfort.
Then my husband went to Kenya, and God completely shattered that way of thinking. Kent saw people who had nothing, yet their faith in God was so rich, so beautiful, so sufficient – it wasn’t just something that fit neatly into their lives – Christ was EVERYTHING to them. Now I can see how spiritually poor I was compared to these amazing Christ followers. I had unknowingly made idols out of my comfort, my safety and my possessions.
So in the last 4 years, we have slowly down-sized our house size by 75%. We have pared down our possessions by giving things away. We live a bootstrapped life – we rarely go out to eat, we don’t go see movies or shows, don’t go on vacations, you get the point. All this to say, downsizing was something necessary for us to do so we could release our grip on self-gratification and material things. I don’t say this so you can pat us on the back, I don’t even share it with the hope that you will do the same. I simply invite you to dream with me for a moment.
Poverty was not created by God, but by you and me – because we have not learned to love our neighbor as ourselves. -Shane Claiborne
What if all who profess Christ and believe the Bible would actually do what it said? God is very clear about taking care of the poor, the widow and the orphan. God’s commands to Israel were so extensive that they were designed to eradicate poverty. (Deut. 15:4) God was then furious over Israel’s failure to care for the poor and the oppressed. (Isa. 58:1-3, 5-10)
In the book, The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne says, “We need neither the gospel of prosperity, nor the poverty gospel, but the gospel of abundance rooted in a theology of enough.” This is taken from Exodus where God commanded the Israelites to only gather what they could eat, and no more (Exo. 16:16) and of course from the Lord’s prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
There is enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed. -Gandhi
In the early days of Christianity, when there was not enough food for everyone to eat, the whole community fasted until all could come to the table together. This kind of boggles my mind. We are so far from this model of doing life with our brothers and sisters in our self-serving culture.
“Does God’s dream look like Wall Street?” If everyone lived the American dream, we’d need four more planets. Can the world really afford the patterns that we’re living in? -Shane Claiborne
The theology of enough. It is something that my husband and I are still working on – we still blow money on crap that we don’t necessarily need. But the hope is that the grip will loosen more and more.
God’s love for you and God’s love for the larger world in need cannot be separated. God’s longing to see you liberated for life that really is life can’t be neatly pulled apart from God’s longing to see the poor liberated for life that really is life. My friend Nate, who works with Compassion International, sees this pretty clearly. Nate will be the first one to tell you, “Compassion’s work, releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name, is releasing me from wealth in Jesus’ name.” If your life is anything like mine, God longs to set you free from addiction to pleasure, appearances, busyness, consumption, envy, greed and self-absorption. -Margot Starbuck
What are your thoughts, friends? Do you struggle in this area?