Monday, November 05, 2007

What We Don't See

If you would like to read a fascinating story of a man who gave much, went to China and died happy, then this is not the book for you.

If you would like, however, to be convicted of your mediocre, materialistic, self-centered life by reading about a God-loving, sacrificial, servant and missionary to China, THEN this book is for YOU!

Oh, we do not know the small lives we live until we read about great men and women of faith who have gone before us. I read Scripture differently when I am immersed in learning about the faithfulness of people like Hudson Taylor.

I, personally, get so content in my day to day living that I, only by God's divine remembrance, recall the heights that I am called to achieve. As I read the history of world changers I realize that there are significant areas in their lives that are incredibly similar. Although each one lived in very different time periods, countries and had vastly unique circumstances, they all reached the same conclusions about life.

One topic where the same conclusion is reached regards money. Yes, yes, money. The substance we all love and in the next breath loathe. It is the resource we need to survive and sometimes we survive to attain. A close kin to money is possessions because, for the most part, you need money to acquire belognings.

Hudson Taylor is my hero, along with George Muller, when it comes to a view of money. He lived on little. He ate only bread and water so that he had more to minister to the needy. He was never in debt to anyone. He trusted God for all he needed and realized that if he went without something HE thought he needed that maybe, after all, God thought he did not need it- even food. Ever thought about a God-ordained fast simply because there was no food to eat and no money to buy it? It was common for Hudson and it strengthened his faith.

Some countries have a worldview that enslave them to fear spirits while others serve their family heritage. American Christians are good at seeing the speck in the eye of other cultures. We pray for the Buddists, Muslims, etc. to be free from spiritual bondage and all the while we have a monsterous plank sticking out of our eye because we worship money. The love of money is definately prevalent in many societies, but we seem to live for it more than most.

It is somewhat subtle, our love of money, and we have become good at justifying our expenses. We need to furnish our home and you know we cannot possibly shop at Goodwill (we would have mismatched furniture if we did that!). AND we have to have 8 dining rooms chairs (that match, mind you) because 4 just wouldn't do. Sit children on the floor, are you crazy? The carpet might get dirty... There must be every day dishes and special occassion dishes, as well, that is just how it is done. Ten different pairs of shoes is adequate and quite modest for most girls, yes, see I am sacrificing now. (TEN pairs of shoes.) We could not possibly do with less, could we? Then there are clothes. We must have a closet full of clothes for every occassion, time of year, fashion and occupation. When this year's styles go out we load up BAGS of clothes and hand them off to, well, someone less fortunate.

We eat out, at $30 a pop (which isn't as much as those who really waste money!) without blinking and justify it because, you know, a couple needs a nice date once in a while. Oh, then there is a good movie once a month, Starbuck's several times a week and the "little treats" along the way. It just cost a dollar, you know.

And, I still give 10% to the church, so I am okay. Isn't that all God asks of me? I cannot afford to do more at this point! I have school debt to pay off. Oh, now I cannot give more because we have little kids. Then there is a house, sports, college, retirement, etc. and before another word life is gone.

Shame on us.

For one example- we, Christians, should be ashamed of the gross amount of money we sacrifice to the god of coffee. Millions of dollars that pass through the hands of Christians are being spent on a hot drink while that same money could rescue 25 million 8 year old girls from the sex trade in Thailand. Billions of dollars breeze in and out of bank accounts belonging to self-proclaimed followers of Christ as we praise the gods of clothes, cars, movies and music.

God does not need our money, let me clarify that, but He does command us to give, live soberly and have no earthly ties. It all burns. The nice furniture, as cheap as you think it was, will burn. The clothes... gone. The nice dishes, big screen TV's and fashionable cars will pass away.

God does not want us to worship money, but He does tell us to be good stewards of it. And this does not mean "good stewards" of it from an American "I-got-the-best-deal-so-I-am-being-a-good-steward" mindset. Being a good steward of what God has given us means that we think of others before we think of ourselves. It means that we use our money as a weapon to fight the evil one by not allowing him to enslave us with love of it, because instead we use it to spread the gospel.

God have mercy on me! Praise You, God, that you are Sovereign over my sinfulness and that Your purposes will be fulfilled without my help. Yet, convict and conform me to your image so that I am ever more sacrificial as I see the end approaching. Teach me how to live on less so that You alone capture my love, affection and attention. Keep me from justifying my thoughtless expenses. Teach me how to use money as a weapon against Satan and a tool to further the gospel. May I never boast in what I own, for it will all perish...


Andrew said...

That's the book I read on your recommendation, promptly followed by the Autobiography of George Muller.

Concerning money, yes, it's quite convicting. I'm still pairing back, but I don't know if I can ever reach the point you're talking about, as joyous as it sounds. But to say the least, I am encouraged to start supporting more missions work, beyond what I already do.

Thanks for the reminder!

Augustinian Successor said...

What a magnificent piece of literary flourish

AND, AND ...

the truth which lie behind it, grounded no less in the transforming power of the Word of God and the Spirit.

Wow, the spirit of conviction and of love and passion for all things spiritual ... don't know what else to say except to say that I feel ... your passion and conviction ...

Jaclyn said...

Andrew- Well, although I know most people can cut back significant amounts, there is not one standard (necissarily)- Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler to give away all he had, but Zacchaeus we see gave only half. I am not an advocate, and I know a person who is, of being paupers. There is such a difference between trusting God and being extremely foolish. We are not to go live in cardboard boxes just for the sake of sacrificing or giving, but we must at least consider it. We need to learn to strip away the Western mindset that says "It's ok" and we have not even thought about it!

Anyway, since it is something that I am thinking about, changing my own habits and studying... there is a lot more I could say. :-)

Augustinian Successor said...

"...there is a lot more I could say. :-)"

Yez, yez ...