(in)comprehensible(?)

Before God and a billion hungry neighbors, we must rethink our values regarding our present standard of living and promote more just acquisition and distribution of the world’s resources. – The Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern, 1973

Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism. – Lausanne Covenant

I finally had some time this dear Thanksgiving weekend to pick up Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, a book I started reading earlier this quarter. Still trying to be socially aware of the spending choices I make, as well as earnestly looking towards the future for whatever endeavors God may call me to pursue, I skipped straight to the chapter geared toward living simply and implementation of giving generously with the a monthly income. During, and shortly after the read, convictions, fears, excitement, intrigue, and skepticism quickly ambushed my thoughts. Here are a couple:

1)      Many of us actually believe that we can barely get along on the thirty-five, forty-five, or sixty thousand dollars that we make each year. We are in an incredible rat race. When our income goes up by another $2000, we convince ourselves that we need that much more to live – comfortably. – Roland Sider, 189

This book was written back in 1997, so I think the first half of the statement should be adjusted for contextual purposes, but the second half is something I completely agree with. Sider goes on to talk about a “graduated tithing” system, which essentially takes your annual income at the beginning of the year, allocates how much money is necessary to live off of for the year so that materialistic strongholds can be broken (as well as help to provide a means toward understanding how much/what we truly need in life), and then whatever else is earned (even if there are surprise bonuses, etc.) is simply given away. I understand this system is completely relative to a person’s/family’s financial situation, but it’s at least a basis for how to consider a generous living style. I think a precaution against legalism needs to be greatly considered as well, but shouldn’t be a dissuader from trying to pursue such a noble method at how to spend one’s money. I feel particularly blessed to have read this before starting a career, because just like everything else, once a habit has been formed, it’s terribly hard to break. I hardly have any money as it is, but if I can develop and implement something like this into my life now, it will be much easier to follow later down the line.

2)      We have become ensnared by unprecedented material luxury… How many more luxuries should we buy for ourselves and our children when others are dying for lack of bread? – Roland Sider, 191

Though nearly cliché to ask, this question, when considered to its greatest degree , means everything whenever we make a purchase. Do you actually need that extra pair of pants? What is wrong with your current pairs already? Is it for fashionable purposes? Is it out of selfish or impulsive wanting? I don’t ask these questions to be an insensitive prick, and I know consideration for giving that $30-70 away to a starving child is hard to muster up – especially without a face to conjure such a though – but the reality is that the child exists. Simple as that. He exists and he’s going to die without the resources to stay alive.

This can be changed through simple donations. This can be changed through prayer. This can be changed through softening of the heart and willingness to respond. This can be changed through altered spending habits, and conscientious decisions on where to buy products.

For I was hungry, and you have Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink… Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.

I’ve learned this past year that I’m often the one to take the optimistic, head-in-the-sky point of view. I’m hasty to make decisions, and the first good idea I hear I try to jump on. This may very well be that good idea. However, I’m deeply convinced that this lifestyle has a place in this world, even if it is irrational at times. Lord, I understand I’m not the best at making decisions for myself, but give me the courage to chase this dream, my friends the willingness and memory to pray for me – as well as themselves – and conversation with those possessing Your divine wisdom and Spirit to aid me on how best to approach this newfound venture.

Amen

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~ by Chris Kyle on November 27, 2010.

One Response to “(in)comprehensible(?)”

  1. mind-blowing. scary. but definitely sounds worthwhile.

    let’s keep praying.

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