Steve and I have been having some lively discussions lately about poverty, about our return to the US in July, about what we want our vision to be, for us personally and as a family.
A book that Abby lent us has definitely fueled our conversations. It is called Simple Spirituality. I highly recommend it to anyone who does not want to be “comfortable”; somebody who wants to be challenged in their spiritual walk and think more about how we as rich Christians should address our brothers and sister who live in poverty.
A passage from Isaiah has also continually puzzled and challenged us. Here is the passage, from Isaiah 58:
2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
3 “Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice? Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.
4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.
5 Is this the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
To loose the bonds of injustice,
To undo the thongs of the yoke,
To let the oppressed go free,
And to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them ,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
What is God saying here? What does this look like in the 21st century? Is it possible that as Christians, God is asking us to do more than go to church once a week and give a tithe? We have been asking God to show us what this means. How do we “loose the bonds of injustice” or “break every yoke?”
I started to imagine what this might look like. What if…
Instead of thinking that adoption is only for those who cannot have children, every Christian saw it as an alternative to abortion, a ministry, a way to personally affect someone for Jesus? Fact: If only 7% of the world’s Christians would adopt a child the orphanages of the world would be empty. Also see James 1:27
Instead of adorning our churches with fancy decorations, we gave the money to poorer churches for their needs, or even to homeless and starving families? James 2: 5,15,16,Romans 12:13
Instead of thoughtlessly piling our food on our plates and eating until we can hardly walk, we spent some time at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter…and learned what it means to be truly thankful? 1 Thessalonians 4: 18, Colossians 3:17
Instead of building a bubble around our family, we learned about persecuted Christians in other countries and taught our children to pray for them? Hebrews 13: 3
Instead of building big churches, we had only house churches, and the money we saved could be used to support our brothers and sisters in need? 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Instead of mothers competing against each other through their children, they became like true sisters, encouraging each other and praying for one another? Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:1-3, 1 John 4:20, I Peter 4:8, Titus 2:3-5, I Corinthians 10:24
Instead of tearing down masculinity and waffling on family issues, churches powerfully and practically supported the men and their marriages? 1 Peter 5: 1-3, James 5:16, Titus 2: 2, 6, Ephesians 5: 25-31
Instead of believing that war is the only option, we truly believed that Love overcomes all things? 1 John 4:4, 8 and 5: 3-5, 1 Corinthians 13:8,13, Romans 8:31,37
Instead of criticizing our leaders and fighting each other along political lines, we remember that our kingdom is not of this world and we pray for those in authority over us? 1 Peter 2:13, Romans 13:1,2
Instead of spending on our money on beautifying large houses in the suburbs, going on expensive vacations, making payments on luxurious vehicles and buying a new wardrobe every season, we lived more simply and directed the money towards people who don’t know where their next meal will come from? 1 Timothy 6:6-10, Colossians 3:2,3, James 2:14-17
Instead of thinking that evangelism is only the work of missionaries, we resolved to get to know our neighbors, our co-workers, and to walk alongside them and possibly even tell them about Jesus? I John 3: 18, James 4:12,
What would this world look like?
I don’t know for sure, and I realize that none of these are easy, but I think it would look very differently.