Transitioning back to the States from a developing country is an eyeopening experience. As I am in the midst of it, there are things that stand out drastically in the “culture shock” of life in the United States. Driving around the US makes me sad. It is difficult for me to drive past huge mansions, overwhelming church buildings, Lexus’ in church parking lots, and other such images of obscene abundance. Having lived internationally and domestically, it is difficult for me to rationalize the excessive consumerism with the overwhelming poverty that is present in much of the developing world.
While it is easy to judge the careless spending in the US (or globally depending on where you are), this is not a post to write about how the US has it wrong and the global south has it right, this is a post to wake us up to the reality of what Jesus called us into. The reality is Jesus talked about money in the New Testament than heaven and hell. Why? Because what we do with our money matters. Unfortunately, the culture in the United States does little to challenge us to live radically generous. As I missionary who raises funds I have had my fair share of conversations surrounding money, and one thing I try to make clear when I raise funds is that my goal is not for anyone to give to me. My goal when I have any conversation about fundraising is to challenge people to think critically about where their money goes and give generously wherever God leads them to give.
The western world has unprecedented access to capital that can be used intentionally to further the kingdom of God. However, I believe, in having that access we are given a huge burden to be good stewards and live radically and utilize that which we have to further the Kingdom. Unfortunately, all to often, that has been used to build bigger buildings, expand already sufficient church buildings, build bigger auditoriums to house more congregants instead of planting new churches, and build bigger houses to “be hospitable” when we may host in our “formal dining rooms” eight times a year.
Living radically means we are generous when it hurts, we are charitable when we don’t have enough ourselves, we share what we have to stretch it further, we don’t buy more when there isn’t a need, we provide for people when they don’t have the means, we feed people when they don’t have food, and we live in such a way that puts Jesus on display everyday showing the world that there is something so much better than the status quo.
This is an area what we can learn greatly from in the developing world. I have had meals in sugar cane villages, where people makes less than $1 a day, yet when you eat at their houses its like they cooked for Christmas dinner. I have seen families kill their goats and chickens (livelihood) to feed those who are visiting for the day. I have seen people live radically generously on $1 a day, and I believe similar to Mark 12:41-44 where Jesus commends the poor widow saying, “but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.” (vs. 44), this is what we are called to emulate. Live radically, radically generous and out of radical faith that God will provide what we need if we are faithful with our generosity.