My sweet friend Kim loaned me Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven: an experimental mutiny against excess. This book is like looking in the mirror and seeing yourself wearing fourteen outfits, one on top of the other; seventeen necklaces adorn your neck. You’re wearing four pairs of shoes, one tucked into the next. (Yes, you look ridiculous.) And beside you is a plate piled high with so much food that it spoils before you can eat it. Surrounding you is a flock of hungry, homeless orphans, looking for ONE pair of shoes, ONE sweater, ONE mere morsel to sustain them for today. And then you look at them, their sunken cheeks and starving, distended bellies…and drive your SUV to Target where you buy a fifth pair of shoes, another sweater, and some new plastic bins to store all your extra stuff.
Do you kind of want to puke a little bit? I do.
You guys, this book is wrecking me. In all the right ways. It’s pointing out the exorbitant riches I have. Money, stuff, food. You name it, I got it. And yet I still find myself complaining about not having “enough.”
In my first job out of college, I made $32,500 in a year. I had a roof over my head, never missed a meal, drove a car and even went on a vacation. Yet I complained about being “broke” because I couldn’t afford to eat out as often as I wanted and I wanted a nicer car. You’d think that eight years later, with a much different household income, I’d be totally satisfied, Scrooge McDuck-style swimming in a pool of gold coins, but no. Now I complain that I can’t eat out more, that I can’t buy a new wardrobe every time the weather changes and that I can’t enroll my preschool-aged kids in another extra-curricular activity. The more I have, the more I want. This cycle needs to end.
From Francis Chan’s Crazy Love:
“If one hundred people represented the world’s population, fifty-three of those would live on less than $2 a day. Do you realize that if you make $4000 a month, you automatically make one hundred times more than the average person on this planet?…Which is more messed up – that we have so much compared to everyone else, or that we don’t think we’re rich? That on any given day we might flippantly call ourselves “broke” or “poor”? We are neither of those things. We are rich. Filthy rich.”
It’s crazy to me that I have called myself a Christian and for so long have continued to buy into the pursuit of more “stuff.” What did Jesus say about this?
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12:16-21
The rich man is described as someone who has more stuff than he has space to store it. So he goes to buy more storage. Um, hello there Ikea, Target, Container Store – your relationship with my checking account proves that I am the Richie Rich in this parable. Do you have more than what meets your basic needs? If you’re reading this on your computer/iphone/ipad, it’s probably safe to say you are rich, too.
I once heard someone ask, If you were on trial for being a Christian, what evidence would there be to convict you? Well, how does Jesus say people will know we are His followers?
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35
Wait, they won’t know us because of our Jesus bumper stickers? (Which are great…I don’t have one because I’m the worst driver ever and let’s be real, a Jesus fish on my car would send people running away from church in droves.)
He doesn’t say, “They will know that you are my disciples if you don’t cuss.” Or if you “go to church sometimes.” Or if you “toss some spare change in the offering basket once in awhile.”
IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER.
How do non-Christians describe Christians? I can think of some words: Judgmental. Self-righteous. Exclusive. What would happen if instead, the rest of the world looked at us and said, “Whoa, why are those people sharing their stuff with everyone else? Why are they living so minimally in order to give to others? Why are they so different? What do they know that we don’t? Who do they know that we don’t?”
What kind of impact would we have as a church if we did something radical like, I don’t know, what the Bible tells us to do?
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17
I’m chewing on this like a long-lasting stick of Wrigley’s. Trying to move where He’s convicted me. Starting where I’m at today by cleaning out my kids’ closets to share some of the insane bounty stored in my plastic tupperware bins. My sisters in Jesus, will you join me?