Sunday, February 17, 2013

Taxing the Hungry

There is so much bouncing around inside me right now.  I am going to try to condense it... but you know how good I am at that :).

My mind keeps replaying the statement that Pastor James Griffin said last week about tax collectors back in Jesus' time. They would tax their own people for the government and would tax extra for their pay but instead of just doing a fair amount for their job/livelihood they would over tax the people and live lives of wealth and luxury. They were the rich.

My issue with this is that I felt like God impressed on me that this is the way I (and maybe a lot of others) am living. I have been given wealth and prosperity and instead of only taking what is necessary to live and giving the rest to those who need it, I am actually keeping back more.  I keep more than I need and what others desperately need. In a way I am stealing from my brothers and sisters that do not have because I choose to live in luxury while they are relegated to lives of hunger and thirst.

How is that okay?

It isn't.  Just take one area of life, food, my choices on a daily basis are off the charts. I love the statement from David Platt that goes something like this, "We do not ask God for our daily bread because we have 12 choices of bread at our store".  My access to anything I need is over the top, literally. I am thankful for these blessings and have always told God how grateful I am but now I am seeing all of this with new eyes. Instead of being grateful that God loves me so much He gives x,y,z to me I am seeing that God loves me AND OTHERS so much that He gives x,y,z to me. It is so that He can reach them.  How have I missed this for so long?

I gave something very small and simple to a homeless man last night.  He was holding a sign that read "Hungry, Homeless".  What I gave wasn't much but it was what I had on me in the moment and let me tell you, when I looked deep in his eyes I saw appreciation. Real appreciation. Not this false stuff I have been giving to God that is really still all about me and the fact that deep down inside somewhere I think I am worth it or have earned the blessing. No, his clear blue eyes drilled a hole in my heart. He is hungry and has no roof over his head yet he was thankful for this small offering.  I live a life of luxury and he is hungry.  I look back on last night and wonder why I didn't take him to the store and tell him to buy whatever he needed.  Why didn't I spend as much on him as I would on me?  Isn't that what loving your neighbor as yourself looks like?  As Katie Davis says

“As someone who calls themselves a Christian it is very apparent you are to love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself and, like, myself does not want to be starving so I don’t want other people in the world to be starving.” 

That is basic truth, plain and simple.  I didn't take this man to the store (we were close to one, he wouldn't have had to get in the car) because even though I stopped for the 30 seconds it took to hand him something, I was busy about my own life, and not my Father's business.  I'm sorry Jesus.  I no longer want to be a tax collector. I no longer want to keep from others what is Yours and should be theirs.  Please help me!

In this first month of Seven by Jen Hatmaker (this book, click here! read it, no seriously, read it!) I have learned that it is not impossible to live with less. Less choices, less abundance. Just plain Less. Yes, it may be boring or inconvenient at times but it is very possible. What has this small taste of "less" looked like in my life?  So far, I have eaten 7 foods for 21 days (and drank only water).  Only 7.  I got to choose them.  They are foods I like but without condiments and diet soda it is amazing how unexciting these foods can be.  Yes, there are a handful of days when my husband had decided he really wants Chinese food for dinner and we go out and there are no 7 approved foods so I just stick to a few choices, no dessert and no soda, but still for the most part I have lived off of 7 foods.  You know, it has taught me just how wrapped up I am in giving to myself.  My food, my stuff, my wants... it is all about making sure I am experiencing the best earthly pleasure possible in the moment (instead of Psalms 63:5).  I guess this is the difficulty that goes along with the emotional, mental entanglement that is the abundance I live in.  It enslaves me, poisons me, so much so that I feel like I cannot have things a different way.  I am here to say, right now in this moment, they can be different because He is different and that is who we are called to look like.

As my months of 7 move forward into clothes, possessions, media, stress, waste and shopping I hope that God continues to prune back the excess in my life, helping me see that I can live with less so I can give Him more.  I don't want to be a lukewarm Christian, just living life my way with a little Jesus sprinkled in at emergencies and enough to check off my "good christian" list.  I want to be radically abandoned to the life He calls me to.  Whatever that looks like.  Will you join me?