Thursday, July 15, 2010

Now, what do I do?

Compared to the world, most western world folks are pretty well off.  We probably spend more on telephone service than some of my African friends have for their family's income.  Our typical fancy TV cost more than many of them spent building their house.  I don't know what to do with that information yet, but it hurts a bit just to know that my life and thinking and culture are so messed up.  Soon, maybe.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend; he's a PhD (Sociology) college professor.  Discussing the plan to fence the border with Mexico, he defended it with an analogy of his own house.  "I don't want to keep folks out so much as I want to selectively allow folks in.  I want to be able to manage things, so I don't lose ..."

So I don't lose ...  ... what?

This is a good guy, understand.  He's always got guests in his house, usually students or friends of his children, sometimes a foreign student who needs a place to live.  He and his family are wonderfully generous, but his caveat triggered an awareness in my own heart.  Is that the limit I place on my generosity?  That  I'll be generous as long as it doesn't intrude into my current standard of living, my accustomed luxury lifestyle, my plans for myself and my family?  So we don't lose some measure of what we have?

So this one fellow came to Jesus, asking about what good work he might do to inherit eternal life.  Knowing the fellow's heart, I suppose, Jesus told him to go and sell everything and give to the poor, then come and follow Him.  He went away grieving from Jesus' answer.  He just couldn't do it.  I know the feeling.  How do you fight with yourself over accustomed luxury and comfort?  Was that the rich fellow's struggle?  I just want to manage things so I don't lose ....

Sharing ....
The new testament church did a lot of giving and sharing.  People got saved and began selling what they had and sharing with others.  Selling my accustomed luxury lifestyle?  Giving up my current standard of living?  Being so radically changed that my generosity might approach a little self-sacrifice?

So, what are we going to do with what we know?
Do a little research, pray a little bit, re-do our budget a bit.  Or what if we were to go beyond our religious, capitalist baggage and actually do something grand?  Something that costs you a lot, maybe a couple of years savings, but it was grand and noble, and what if it was enough to actually make a difference for somebody?  Would we?  Would it be worth it afterward?

“When we find a way to save millions of lives, to give hundreds of millions of families the ability to make a healthy, productive future, we should give everything we’ve got.” ~Melinda Gates