The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury- proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them. [Ezekiel 16:49-50 MSG]
When Jesus messes up your life, it is violent and harsh and so beautiful. I once read it put this way, “It’s one thing to acknowledge a different word view; it’s another thing to absorb it. I was frozen, attempting to get my head around the idea that I’d missed something so central. I was sitting on the proverbial curb by the wreck God had engineered, trying to catch my breath.” That’s where I’m at today friends, sitting on the curb, shocked at my own ignorance with adrenaline and conviction pumping through my veins.
If you’re at all confused (which you probably are) let me explain. I’ve been feeling a stirring in my soul, the presence of the spirit in a way I haven’t before. God has always felt like a gracious loving embrace. He has picked me up, held me, loved me, put me back together, and sent me on way. My life is a life changed by Christ and I will forever be grateful because I am so undeserving. But the more I walk this path the more I feel like this can’t be all it’s about. As followers of Jesus we are called to be set apart, to be peculiar, to make people wonder why we would be willing to lay our lives down for our Creator. And yet, I see people all around me, myself included, whose Christian life looks just like the rest of the culture, with a little Jesus and church sprinkled in. This time God’s presence within me feels like a violent push off a ledge. I am shaken and my heart has been ripped open so wide for the world around me I can’t decide whether I want to cry or scream.
Let’s look at a couple statistics:
- Of the six billion people on our plant, about 1.2 billion live on twenty-three cents a day.
- Half the world lives on less than two dollars and fifty cents a day.
- The wealthiest one billion people average seventy dollars a day (guess where that puts us y’all).
- Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.
- Last year twenty-two million people died of preventable diseases; ten million were children.
- More than 143 million children in the developing world have been orphaned (equivalent to more than half the population of the United States).
- About 1 billion people in the world do not have suitable housing, and 100 million are entirely homeless.
- Roughly forty million people (the equivalent of about seven Jewish Holocausts) die annually from starvation, disease, and malnutrition.
- 69 percent of US adults and 18 percent of children and adolescents are overweight or obese.
Some of these statistics are a couple years old, but I can tell you one thing, if they’ve changed it sure hasn’t been for the better. How is it that more than HALF of our countries adults are obese when someone literally DIES OF HUNGER every 3.6 seconds? And how does that not even register to most of us? Why don’t we care?
We have been taught that we are consumers, we are fed this message every day. We buy cheap clothes ignoring the fact that they were paid for dearly by people’s lives in Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and so many other countries less fortunate than our own. We spend outrageous amounts of money on “convenient” pre-packaged, processed crap and we call it food. We ruin God’s precious earth with industry, building more factories to make more stuff we don’t need, and more buildings to sell it all from. We tell ourselves that busy is better and earning more and more money, climbing the ladder if you will, is the goal. You pay your bills, and then you die. If you’re a Christian, you tithe first, pay your bills, and then die. This is the American Dream, buy more, live comfortably, and take care of your own. It’s an easy sell, and we all eat it up.
For Christians, for true followers of Jesus the issue lies in what we’ve given up in order to pursue this “American Dream”. We have unknowingly given up the Kingdom of God. We have abandoned ship, aborted the mission, and ignored the over 2,000 verses in the Bible involving poverty, physical oppression, justice, and redistribution of resources. We have twisted and turned His commandments into sweet anecdotes about how God wants to just bless the blessed a little more. God’s word talks about poverty, widows, orphans, and hunger A LOT, and catch this, they are not metaphors! There are people who need to be fed, with actual food. There are tangible physical ways for us to extend Jesus to people, and it starts with generosity, kindness, and the courage to step out in faith and trust that God means what He says. Trust that He will meet you there in the mess, in the midst of the least.
Friends I have had enough of this “American Dream” that is being shoved down our throats. The ingredients are toxic, and it’s making me sick. I’m ready to reevaluate, I’m ready to welcome the destruction that must come so He can rebuild me. I’m ready to be emptied, recognize myself for the simple jar of clay I am, and let Him fill me up. It’s time for the Bride of Christ to rise, to live differently, to be eternity-minded. Let us recognize the Kingdom of God always takes precedence over our earthly dreams, it’s time for a change.