Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Don't envy the rose garden if you are blessed to be a dandelion

Several months ago, a young woman accepted Christ as her Savior and embarked on a journey to Africa to serve the poorest of the poor, the “least of these.”  Her zeal and love for Jesus was, and is, inspiring to me.  She is willing to do literally anything for Him.  I watched her progress on Facebook, fascinated.  I admired what she was doing.  But suddenly she posted a status that troubled me, and I have seen many statements to the same effect by her, and others, since.  She said, and I paraphrase here, that she was sitting at the gate waiting to board her flight and watching all the first class passengers who "thought they were better than her" get to board the plane first.  But, she asserted, they don't have what she has...knowledge that she is going to serve Jesus and give her all for him.

Do you see the fault in that?  I turned to my husband and said, “I guarantee if someone offered to buy her a first class ticket she would gladly take it and praise God for His provision.”

Six months later, I kid you not, that is exactly what happened.

Why is it any more the provision of God for her to be given a first class ticket at no charge to her than it is for the same God to allow a man to be well-rewarded financially for his job and be able to purchase that same ticket with his own God-given blessings?

What about families who adopt multitudes of kids, a wonderful thing, but spend the rest of their parenting years begging for money to pay medical and dental bills?  They preach against the selfishness and over-consumption of our society, but flaunt their new tattoos or piercings (that have spiritual significance, of course) on Facebook.  They can't afford to get braces for their teenager but they are beautifully inked.  They tell their friends they should not buy those designer shoes because that money could have fed an orphan for 6 months, but if someone buys a pair for them...well that is different, I guess.  I can't be the only one who sees something very wrong with this.

Think about it.  We are called to obey the Lord whether in poverty or in plenty.  It is God who blesses financially or relationally or physically.  Many people work endless hours and barely eke out a living, while others are well compensated for the same labor.  Is it the fault of the wealthy?  The government?  The church?  Could it be possible that, except in cases of corruption or dishonest gain, (Which are RAMPANT in every country, by the way.  I absolutely acknowledge that.) that God has set us within a certain neighborhood or facet of society because He desires us to be missionaries within our sphere of influence?  Do you remember Queen Esther?
He calls us to serve him wholeheartedly, to love him enough to be willing to give it all up, whatever “it” may be, and go at a moment's notice.  But the sacrifice He requires can appear very different from one Christian to another, depending on where God has called them to serve.  Some are required to sell all their possessions and give to the poor.  Some are required to be a light in what can be a godless society...sticking out like a sore thumb in certain circles because their families are different, the way they treat and relate to others is different, and the causes and/or ministries to whom they give and serve are different.  Others are required to live somewhere in the middle, but we are all called to share Jesus wherever we are and be willing to step out of that place into a whole new place of ministry and service, again at a moment's notice, without looking back.

The class warfare that has surfaced in Christian circles is not of God.  We are to be content with where He has called us, wherever that may be.  We are to be good stewards and generous and recognize that every blessing of God is given to us so that we can use it for His kingdom, for His glory.  Whether that blessing is money, time, talent, or a combination of these we are to be faithful in our use of them and not compare ourselves to others.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.   Phil 4:12

Our world does not consist of “inherently evil rich” versus “inherently good poor.”  We all have the same sin nature, the flesh that is constantly at war with our spirit.  We all, without Jesus, are filthy with sin.  And I believe it is so important to acknowledge that, if we are followers of Christ, we are all one family.  Yes, American consumption has skyrocketed.  Of course we spend too much money on frivolities.  Absolutely those who have more are able, and should, give more.  God has made that very clear in His Word.  (See James chapter 2)

But where is the line?

At what point does rich and poor divide?  At the poverty level?  Is it determined by the size of your house or in which neighborhood you live?  Is it the size of your savings account or the amount of money in your childrens' college funds?

Who determines that line?  The government?  The church?

What if God places His people in every socio-economic level because He knows that across the board, from the wealthiest to the poorest, there are souls destined for Hell that desperately need to hear about, see, and touch "Jesus with skin on?"

After all, isn't our first calling as followers of Christ to go out and make disciples?  Is there not a mission field all around us?   I do not think (and I don't believe you do, either) that He meant we were to only reach out to the poor.  Whether rich or poor, Hell is going to be more awful than any of us dare to imagine.  I don't want anyone to go there, not the poverty-stricken African or the wealthy British aristocrat.  I don't want the businessman on the golf course or the child who suffers in slavery to die without Jesus.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.  Matt. 28:19-20


  1. This is something that my husband and I have been very conflicted about. I think it is a very personal revelation laid on every Christian's heart as to what God is comanding them to do with their finances. But at the same time there are commandments such as "go and tell" that has been laid on every Christian regardless of their standing financially. People have a hard time getting over the "entitlement" lie that all America is buying into. Even Christians unfortunately. It makes me cringe when my friend tells me I don't know what it's like to work away from home because I get to stay at home. What I want to say is, "well if you and your husband wouldn't have built a 2 story mansion and both have brand new $40,000 vehicles and buy really expensive clothing for yourselves and your 2 kids, maybe you wouldn't have to go to work." But I keep my mouth shut because deep down I know she gets it without me having to throw that in her face. My husband and I decided a long time ago that everything we do and say should have eternal value, otherwise it's worthless.

  2. This post was along the line of the book I'm reading: Money, Possessions and Eternity by Randy Alcorn...so agree contentment is needed to combat class warfare. Anybody's possessions can possess them. And poor and rich get to choose where they put their heart treasures.

  3. Kristin, that is such a great point! Good stewardship is KEY to being able to go and tell when and where He calls us. Where our hearts are, our treasures will be also! We have to choose...to decide for ourselves...to make what is important to us and, hopefully, the Kingdom of God a priority. But no one else can choose that for us, and if it is not for His glory than the effort is wasted anyway.

  4. Michael and I dealt with this struggle when we were living in Houston. A lot of people would give us "the eye" when we told them we were ministering in wealthy apartment complexes and planting a church in the suburbs. As though it wasn't true, sacrificial ministry because we weren't feeding the homeless or selling everything we had to go live in a hut in Africa. But we were convicted that those "rich" people needed Jesus just as much as the poor. And sometimes it was harder to reach them because there was no real "tangible" need for us to meet. They didn't feel they needed anything we had to offer, including our God.

    It all comes down to, as you said, surrender and obedience to go where God calls. He places some in the wealthy suburbs of Houston, and some in the huts in Africa. And then sometimes he calls you from the wealthy suburbs of Houston into the lower socio-economic middle of nowhere Texas. And surrender means being okay with that. :)

  5. Etta! Yes! That is it exactly!! Thank you, friend, for sharing your experience!

  6. Refreshingly good! When people visit South Africa they are shocked by the rampant poverty right next to the absolute wealth. The gucci designer baby bathing suits and the naked kids on the beach. The tension is hard to miss. They think we are ONLY here for the poor. Not true. God called us to this nation. While we may have a specific area of reach, everyone you encounter has a need for Jesus. Its forced me to flesh out a lot of my rich/poor worldview. I recently heard a comment (regarding a clearly wealthy person) that well you can imagine all the people they trampled on to get there and that she was so glad to have less and not have that on her conscience. I was stunned. While that really does exisist here as a part of this nation's history, did she just start from.a worldview that says the wealthy are wealthy because they trampled on others to get there?!?!?! This post was excellent!

  7. Marysol, thank you. I think of the conversations we had so often. You have a much-needed unique perspective on this subject and what you share here is exactly what I am getting at! Well said!


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