Spoiler alert: This post might be offensive. Seems like talking about money almost always is. I would apologize but in all honesty, I’m not really that sorry. Just know I’m also preaching to myself as I write this. I am, however, sorry for the length of this post …
I guess it all started with my trip to Iraq. Seeing how much I live with and how little I truly need. Seeing how little people live with in another country – even those who are not considered poor. Living out of one (under 50 lb) suitcase for six months makes you realize all those things you can do without (and there is A. L.O.T. I can do without).
I came home after Iraq infuriated with the waste in the American culture – especially the Christians in our American culture. Thoughts like “Really?!? You are going to pay someone to park your car?!? Do you realize a family of 10 in a third world country could eat off of that for a week!?!” or “Seriously? You are really trying to convince me that you deserve those $200 boots??? That would almost pay for the airfare of a child in Iraq to get life-saving heart surgery in Turkey!!!” and “What the crap? Our church in no way needs a new 2 million dollar building!!! And they are asking me to pray for it?”
I wish I could say that my anger was righteous. I’m not sure that it was. The way my heart was changed to view money and to be a good steward that there of was a good thing, but the way I let it make me critical (hateful even) toward others was not.
It’s funny how easy it is to drift back into old ways. How easy it is to blend back into one’s culture. It’s one thing to be ignorant of life outside the US and not to have seen what real poverty looks like. It’s one thing to not know how filthy rich our country is because of never experiencing anything else. It’s an entirely different story to have experienced it, lived it, breathed it and chosen to forget. I am ashamed to say I am the latter.
It snuck up on me. Surprised me. My critical spirit toward how Christians spend their money did not change and yet I began to convince myself of things I needed. I was blinded. “Gap’s having a sale! I have to buy clothes at these prices!” “I am way to exhausted to cook this week. I deserve to eat out.” “Everyone has a new Iphone!!! It would make life SO much easier. MUST get one! I can’t survive without it” “Only 80 channels?!? They call this cable!?! What are we going to do without such and such channel???” and on and on and on…
The past few weeks God has taken the blinders off. To say I’ve been humbled would be the understatement OF THE YEAR. Thank you, Jesus. Sometimes I need a good smack on the head – metaphorically speaking.
In Bible study a few weeks ago: We were asked to choose something to pray for in our culture. My prayer was that Christians in America would be able to focus on the needs in the world instead of being so inwardly focused. (At this point I am still critical of others and am clueless to my own selfishness. Sometimes I think I’m so holy that it’s nauseating. Forgive my evil heart, Lord.)
That same Sunday at church: The sermon was on missions. The pastor spoke on how selfish we are as Christians – so content in our American bubble. Blatantly oblivious to the suffering in the world. We skip over the parts of the Bible where God commands us to look after widows and orphans and feed the poor. We nod our head in agreement when Jesus tells us to go out into all the nations thinking that doesn’t specifically mean that I have to go. It should not be radical for someone to devote their life to being a missionary… we should ALL be missionaries wherever our address. It should be radical to be a Christian and NOT be one. (At this point I should have heard my wake up call. Instead I think, “Yes, Lord! This sermon is an answer to my prayer from Bible study! You and I, God, we are going to fix this thing!” Ha! Little did I know that I’M the one He’s talking to.)
The next week is when things start to change…
We get rid of the cable. Good start. I stumble across PLC’s website and think, “Why have I not been supporting this organization that I’ve loved and rallied for these past 3 years?!?” Then, I’m at work and stumble across the World Vision site and a sweet little girl from Uganda stares back at me: I am the orphan – care for me. I am the poor – feed me. I am the least of these – love me.
I was driving to work the other day and decided to listen to a random sermon. It shouldn’t surprise you that I picked one (at random mind you) entitle ‘Money: a gift or a god?’ About how God gives to us so that we can give away. How we need to be better stewards to what he entrusts us with because that just it… it’s not ours!
And here is the kicker… yesterday I was reading one of my very favorite blogs and this is what I read…
“It is easy to look to God and ask, ‘Why is there so much poverty in the world? Why is there so much hurt, so much inequality and unfairness, so much destitution?’ I bet He would ask us the same thing.”
And He says to me…
Ashley, why is there so much poverty? Why is there so much hurt? Why are there so many orphans unloved and so many poor not cared for? My sweet daughter I’ve entrusted you with SO much. What are you doing with it?
My life needs to radically change.