Thursday, June 28, 2012

Got Affluence?

Sometimes I am able to ignore it.

And sometimes my affluence and privilege smacks right in the face.

It started when I was in college and read "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" by Ron Sider. And I righteously raged about the fact that the middle schoolers I taught in middle school each had more than one pair of $100 shoes. But now, I know how quickly $100 slips through my fingers. Honestly, it feels like it is gone before I can blink.

Although I try to ignore it, the fact of my (and my family's) affluence has lately been smacking me in the face, forcing me to take notice. And it's really uncomfortable.

A few weeks ago, we had a 7th birthday party. It was a doll tea party. 5 out of the 7 girls had American Girls Dolls--some were hand me downs, some were saved for over a long period of time, some were gifts, but the fact remains that in my circles, people have enough resources to have $100 dolls. I can admit that we have 3 of these dolls.

Yesterday, I spent 2 hours putting stuff away to get my house ready to have someone clean it. Problem one--I have so much stuff that I had to spend 2 hours to put it all away (and I still didn't get it all put away). While I can try to justify the about of stuff in our house, it is simply true that we have a lot, more than we need. And then (problem two), I was cleaning up so someone could come in a clean for me. I have the luxury of "not cleaning" and allowing someone else to do it.

Finally, when we accepted a new job for Eric, we made a huge financial trade-off. We took a significant pay cut for the health of our family (more family time, better hours). And it has been wonderful. Except that we are now trying to live within this new financial reality. It's been tough. We've made cuts--no more cable, tightened down on spending, trying to sell a car. But really, we haven't had to choose between feeding our family and paying our mortgage. We have plenty. We're tremendously blessed, yet we 'struggle.'

However, I am painfully aware that there is a mom somewhere in the Sahel region of Africa (google it) who will tonight go to bed with children whose stomachs are distended with hunger. That she will only be able to give them a scant cup of food rations tomorrow. That the chances that her children will die from this hunger are painfully real. I know there are families who are so destitute that they have sold children to slavery or prostitution.

Now, I can already hear some well-meaning responses "not to feel guilty." I agree, I shouldn't feel guilty, God has given our family these gifts. However, it is good to be bothered. And I am bothered in my soul. And I am bothered about a number of things.

And it matters.

It matters because money was something Christ talked a lot about. He said it is hard for the rich to enter into the kingdom of heaven (and I'm beginning to understand why). He praised the widow who gave away everything she had. God's economy favored the poor, the needy, the downtrodden.

If I care about Christ, I care about what he cared about--I pay attention to his economy. It affects how I spend money, how I think about money, how I live.

I don't have any answers. I don't know how to live Christ's economy in a place where money slips through fingers like water. I don't know how to help that mother in Africa and I often feel that what I can offer isn't nearly enough to affect real change in our world.

I have come to the conclusion that my being bothered is right and good and true. And God can use this bothering to further his kingdom.

What is it that bothers you? How do you come to terms with it?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welll Said, Sammy. It is great to be bothered. -Jaclyn

terp said...

I love your heart. Keep Writing it out. ;)

Anonymous said...

You've put into words what our hearts often feel. Thank you. Ken and Chris

The Geurink Family said...

It bothers me that I live in Africa and still don't have the answers. Thanks for sharing