“That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell their possessions gives comfort only to the kinds of people to whom he would issue that command.” – David Platt, Radical
Tears sprang to my eyes as I read these words last night. There I was, lounging on my bed in my dorm room, eating popcorn, and reading a chapter of Radical about global poverty and the church. For me, it was nothing out of the ordinary. But to a child whose parents are struggling to survive on less than a dollar a day? I was lounging on my bed complete with four pillows, a down comforter, and a fleece blanket. I was in my dorm room, which implies not only a roof over my head, but that I am participating in higher education. I was eating popcorn… not for dinner, even, but just because I was a little hungry and had a craving. And I was reading, an activity which is unfathomable for children and adults in many parts of the world.
I’m so blessed, and I know I am called to share those blessings with the less fortunate. More than called, in fact, I know I am commanded multiple times in Scripture to give to the poor, to care for the orphans and widows, and to make less of myself. I generally think I’m doing okay. After all, I tithe, I go to Peru, I give my old clothes to Salvation Army, and I’ve never cared about brand names or big spending. In fact, I think of myself as a fairly frugal person most of the time. The lifestyle of the rich has never been appealing to me.
Then I decide to “treat myself” to a milkshake “just because.” I walk back from Chick-Fil-A, sipping on my creamy, cold $3.49, right past at least 15 people who will have no dinner tonight. I buy a new shirt “because it’s on sale,” when the children I have loved and held in the villages of Pucallpa are overjoyed to receive the shirt I wore for two years then decided to throw to them. I send two suitcases of winter clothes home with my parents because there’s not room in my dresser for two seasons’ worth of clothing, as refugees a few Brown Line stops away lack even one pair of gloves. I throw away an entire plate of food in the SDR because I don’t like it, then read stories of brothers and sisters in Africa who eat a half a cup of rice A DAY.
How? How is this possible? How can I continue to read those Scriptures, to read chapters in books like this, and remain unmoved? Sure, my eyes filled with tears when I read that quote. Yes, I looked through my pictures from the orphanage in Pucallpa and prayed for those children. But I looked through those pictures on my Macbook Pro while painting my freaking fingernails. Kids are starving, dying, impoverished, and I was painting my nails while crying over them.
There is something wrong with me.
What is wrong with me?
I’m no monster. I don’t sit stoically in the face of these statistics. I can readily admit that it is my Christian responsibility to do something about it. I cry, okay? I CRY OVER THEM. But the truth is, these tears don’t matter if they don’t lead to action. I can cry all I want. I can feel guilty for years. Until I am moved to actually do something, I might as well be laughing in the face of the dying children.
I don’t know what this means. I’m comfortable in my Middle Class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant lifestyle, complete with an iPhone, a meal plan, and a 2007 Ford Taurus. I like having clothing and entertainment options at my fingertips. I enjoy the luxury of having study Bibles in multiple versions, books for fun, and the occasional midnight snack.
It’s not bad to live a content, comfortable life, thankful for the blessings God has showered upon me.
But where is the line?
I truly don’t have the answer to this question. All I know is for the last couple years, God has very steadily been making my uncomfortable with my level of comfort. He has been placing books, speakers, sermons, and documentaries in my path to shake up my way of thinking. He has used my trips to Peru and experiences with rescue missions to begin breaking my heart for those less fortunate.
As I stand here, teetering somewhere between terrified that He’ll call me to literally give up everything and hopeful that I’ll have the chance to prove my faith in such a tangible way, I am convicted. Where this conviction will lead, I don’t know.
But Jesus is worth it.