My beloved friend Mary sent me this a few days ago. I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since, but it’s kind of hard to even process for me right now. I’m sorry that I don’t have the original source to refer to right off hand…somehow I think I’ll probably be forgiven. Give this puppy a read:
Jesus our Lord summons us to holiness, humility, simplicity and contentment. He also promises us his rest. We confess, however, that we have often allowed unholy desires to disturb our inner tranquility. So without the constant renewal of Christ’s peace in our hearts, our emphasis on simple living will be one-sided.
Our Christian obedience demands a simple life-style, irrespective of the needs of others. Nevertheless, the facts that 800 million people are destitute and that 10,000 die of starvation every day make any other life-style indefensible.
While some of us have been called to live among the poor, and others to open our homes to the needy, all of us are determined to develop a simpler life-style. We intend to reexamine our income and expenditure, in order to manage on less and give away more. We lay down no rules or regulations, for either ourselves or others. Yet we resolve to renounce waste and oppose extravagance in personal living, clothing and housing, travel and church buildings. We also accept the distinction between necessities and luxuries, creative hobbies and empty status symbols, modesty and vanity, occasional celebrations and normal routine, and between the service of God and slavery to fashion. Where to draw the line requires conscientious thought and decision by us, together with members of our family. Those of us who belong to the West need the help of our Third World brothers and sisters in evaluating our standards of spending. Those of us who live in the Third World acknowledge that we too are exposed to the temptation to covetousness. So we need each other’s understanding, encouragement and prayers.
Wow. Mary and I have had this nearly-two-year-long conversation going about what it means and looks like to live simply and generously in a culture of comfort and excess. We know that the simple posture of our hearts makes the difference, but we’ve been searching for that practical application and have so far not settled on an answer that satisfies either of us fully. I have a feeling that we both think the whole “well, God knows you have a generous heart” answer seems a little dry and cop-out-ish to us both. So we’re wondering how God can use us and show us these details of life while we’re at the same time skewed in the direction of our crazy culture. We’re wondering how God can use us to bless others in a way that is sacrificial, a little (or a lot!??) uncomfortable, and just say to Him: Whatever You want, Lord. (And mean it.)
This passage above sums everything up in just about the closest thing I’ve ever seen to an answer. Any thoughts about this? Please share. I’ll try to dissect parts of this to write on later. But this moment is dedicated to the sheer awe I felt at how wonderfully my heart has been articulated in this agreement. Now, for the courage to live it out…