For work, I had to read (well, GOT to read) Shane Claiborne’s book, Irresistible Revolution and it put flesh to a lot of the things God has been showing me. Funny, I was just talking to my wife about this the other day as we walked into the store. We were talking about how we are supposed to know how much money to give to people and it hit me.
I’m sure we all know God wants us to give. The easy thing is to just send a check in the mail to an organization. But I’m pretty sure that’s not what God had in mind. What I think he had in mind was that we would be involved in the lives of others and the needs He wants us to meet would arise right before our eyes. Sending a check in the mail (or even money in the offering plate) gives us no opportunity for relationships. Jesus said when you serve the least of these you serve me. How can we interact with Jesus through a mail-in transaction?
So, back to the book… I was reading it this morning and came across this quote from Irresistible Revolution:
“We wrestle to free ourselves from macrocharity and distant acts of charity that serve to legitimize apathetic lifestyles of good intentions but rob us of the gift of community.”
My sentiments, exactly. Earlier in the book Shane says something to the affect of… “the problem is not that Christians don’t care about poor people, the problem is that Christians don’t know any poor people.” And I think we can expand what we mean by “poor” to include spiritually poor, relational and emotionally poor, etc.
Do you know any poor people? Do you know anyone who is poor in relationships (has no real friends). What if God wanted us to knock on their door and find a way into their life so we could bring them true riches – hope and purpose through Jesus?
I think that I will play the devil’s advocate role for a moment. I hear what the author is saying. However, I cannot go to Cambodia and help with the building of a hospital, and I cannot go to Haiti and help the people there. I can though, support the people that ARE there, through gifts of money and prayer. Does this make my gift “less” because I am not physically there? I don’t think so. My heart breaks for them, and I know that I am not apathetic towards their needs. My family and I do what we can, and I believe that is what Jesus wants.
Yeah – That’s a really good point to bring up. And I don’t mean to discount the importance of supporting ministries from afar. Obviously there are thousands of people who rely on the gifts of strangers – and there’s no doubt God is in that. (think of stories you’ve heard about someone who didn’t know how they were going to pay for something and then suddley an anonymous check arrives in the mail) But I do think that if all we do is send money (and physical goods, prayer, etc) from the safe comfort of our home, though we may be doing a good thing, there’s a whole other level to experience.
I would say that if you wanted to encounter Jesus, you would need to leave your house and get into the life of someone else. I believe Jesus shows up in our relationships and as we love and help each other (Christian or Non-Christian). Of course, I’m basing this off scripture more than experience. Hopefully a year from now I can turn that around. (stay tuned to the blog!)
I think God desires that we do all we can for whoever we can. I think if we learn to hear His voice, He will tell us where He wants us to direct the resources He entrusted to us. One final thought (which may end up in a song idea I’m working on)… If God gave us two of something, maybe it’s because we are supposed to give it to someone else. Maybe God gives us extra because that extra thing will bring us into the life of someone else. And we all know that relationships are the most meaningful thing in life.
Anyone else out there want to weigh in?