[This is a continuation of yesterday's post, Sacrificial Jesus]
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58, ESV)
Jesus lived completely dependent on the provision of His Father. During His earthly ministry, He had no home to call His own, and no possessions that we know of beyond the clothes on His back. And though Jesus did apparently have some amount of money, he allowed his finances to be managed by a thief (John 12:1-6).
No, I’m not telling you to give up your house and live on the street. No, I’m not telling you to go sell or give away everything you own for the poor. But God is telling you to use the resources He’s loaned you to help the poor and the needy around you.
I struggle writing this, because my situation is far from ideal. I struggle with putting this into practice myself.
My wife and I are over-qualified for poverty as defined by the government here in America:
- I have been unemployed more often than not for the past 3 years
- I suffered a major catastrophe not even a month before the birth of my now six-month-old daughter, and a month before my first year’s anniversary with my wife
- I’m presently blessed enough to be working an office job (making less than I’ve made per hour in 5 years, but it pays the bills), but my wife is about to be let go from her job.
I don’t tell you these things so you can throw me a pity-party. I tell you this to put things in perspective.
I am fortunate enough to have loving (and able) parents who allow my wife and I to live with them rent-free provided I’m doing my job in working or finding a way to provide for my family. I’m attending college online to pursue the calling to teach that I believe God has laid upon me.
We have two (usually) working vehicles, and somehow manage to pay the insurance. We have an excessive cell phone bill, which we choose to keep as a luxury and convenience (and it’s presently more expensive to get out of than its worth anyways). We, in our ‘poverty’, still have our basic needs met, and even have luxuries far beyond our basic needs.
My car has working heat. For this I am grateful, with my two bad legs and the 15-degree Fahrenheit chill I walked out to this morning. But I noticed someone driving past me in a beat up late-80s Honda, both driver and passenger wearing gloves and multiple jackets and sweaters, with a carseat in the back piled high with blankets. They obviously didn’t have the luxury of heat in their car.
My wife and I spend money on fast food. Fairly often, in fact. This convenient luxury is handed to us after we hand them a minimum of $6 for our two meals (and more often our meals cost $10+).
Craig Groeschel (whose books are excellent, by the way) cites the fact that more than half the world lives on less than $2 a day, and we’re spending three times that on a meal, sometimes two or three times in a day. I drop $50+ on a tank of gas in my car, and while I certainly don’t mean to disparage driving or discourage car ownership, the thought of how much that $50 could improve someone else’s life is staggering.
Here in the US, the poverty level is defined much higher than internationally, and most people are surviving on much more than $2 a day, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have needs they can’t meet.
We live with far more than we need. We have untold luxuries we take for granted here in America: drive-throughs, smartphones, computers, high-speed internet, working cars, heat in the winter, A/C in the summer, fashion, salaries, representative democracy, easy access to medical care. But do let us recall what these are: luxuries.
Perhaps we should spend less time insisting on luxuries for ourselves and more time helping other people get the basics: food, water, clothing, shelter, and, most importantly, Jesus.
[And because this post is already pushing 700 words, I'll have another post on this running tomorrow]