BROKEN: On Poverty and Privilege in Christian Suburbia

On the advice of a dear friend, I recently began the book The Hole In Our Gospel by World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns.

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On the recommendation of another friend, I also began Jen Hatmaker’s book, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

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I always try to have one Kindle book and one library book to read at any given time, and I didn’t know that these two amazing texts shared similar foci on the poor and our call as Christians to help them. Furthermore, the ideas found in these two books just happen to coincide with two devotionals I am working through, one I randomly chose on my own (from a stack of free devotionals we got from church) and another that my Sunday School class recently began, both of which happen to focus on the Gospel of John.

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Normally the research I do demands that I find multiple sources regarding one topic; in this instance, all of these texts seemed to just appear in my life, and I couldn’t help but begin to make connections among them.

Yesterday, as I read both Stearns and Hatmaker at home or at the gym (snatching time to read what I want whenever I can), I could no longer ignore God’s truth regarding my faith in Him and the lifestyle I have been leading.

If I believe in Jesus and the God who sent Him to save us, and I believe in all that He taught, then I can no longer ignore the poor, hungry, and homeless in our world.

As a comfortable, educated, middle-class white woman living in suburbia in a house with a stocked pantry, working heater, running water, and more clothes than any of us could wear in a given month, it is so easy to get distracted by such trivial things as those pesky 10 (ok, 20) pounds, the age of our (still working) cars, the desire for more stuff: new stuff, shiny stuff, flashy stuff, must-have-but-actually-don’t-need STUFF.

What do all of these things have in common? They are only important to the consumer-driven, materialistic desires of this (First) world. They have NOTHING to do with GOD.

Do I care more about a new car (and a resulting payment) than I do about the health of the world’s environment?

Do I care more about a new purse than clothing a child?

Do I care more about my weight, pouring money into pills, electronics, books, and so on, than I do about the starving people of this world, my brothers and sisters who are fighting just to stay alive?

For too long I have struggled with depression and confusion because for too long my focus has been on myself: what I don’t have, what I have too much of, what my life should look like. I am ashamed to admit that the majority of my adult life has been spent thinking about how I look, how much money I have and how much more I can get, and how comfortable I can make my own life.

I have prayed for God to open my eyes: about myself, my life, and my relationship with Him. He has answered me by turning my eyes away from the mirror and toward my fellow men, women, and children. I pray that He continues to guide my study and my steps so that I don’t lose sight of these brothers and sisters, who I am called to love AND help, and in doing so please the God who continues to bless me each morning with one more day to get it right.

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. -Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision

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