Scene: The coffee shop within Powell’s bookstore in Portland called World Cup Coffee and Tea.
A few weeks ago Rose (that is my wife for those who do not know) and I went out to coffee. I had lots rolling around in my head. So we just started talking. This post is a synopsis of that conversation. We are only posting this so that you can join that conversation and help us grapple with these things. This whole thing will be in two parts, one today, the other tomorrow.
Me: I struggle so much with living in suburbia, living on much more than $2 a day and also being a Christian. I read verses where Jesus tells a man to sell everything he has before he can follow Jesus, I read about Jesus explaining the kingdom being accessible to the sheep, but the goats not making the cut, and I hear story after story about how well off I have it compared to most people. I can’t help but cringe every time I fill up my tank or go to the store to buy clothes. How can we, as a couple desiring to live with Biblical principles, follow Jesus’ words and yet live in such a consumer driven society?
Rose: It is hard to compare our lives with the rest of the world. When we look at our lives, barely living pay check to pay check, it is considered wealthy by the world’s standards. Growing up in such a small home, it has always been a dream to have a nice home for our kids, and to be able to provide a nice life for them. That is important to me. But, when I think of my time in Africa, then I feel like I have way more than I could ever need. Does that mean I need to change my thinking? Or should I not compare myself to someone who lives in a totally different culture? I’ve been changed by having seen true poverty in Kenya, Uganda, and Romania, and it is so important for people to be able to see face to face, these things that are only words (poverty, malnutrition, etc).
Me: I think of Monica, the girl from Uganda that we sponsor, and I think about the fact that she walks miles a day, every day, just to get water. I don’t know how my life, other than giving $35 a month, can make an impact in her world. I need to keep my job and spend money to go to school, yet I can’t help but wonder whether I am that man that needs to sell everything.
Rose: Just like you can’t ever be perfect, I don’t think that if you sold everything you would find Christian perfection. I don’t think God is calling us to sell everything we have. I know Jesus is saying that in those verses, but I sense it is more of a mindset or heart issue. I can think of so many people who are driven by money everyday and it truly has become their idol. And there are others who have a lot of money but have used their income wisely to bless others, while still providing essential needs for themselves.