I grew up semi-poor, which to an Africa kid, I grew up rich. There is a big difference for sure. I had a home, a bike, clothes, education and food. But we had a junky car, I lived in a trailer and the food we ate was provided by the government. I was determined to remove myself from this low standard of living. Somehow I ended up at a youth-camp, met Jesus and things slowly begin to change for me. Transformation took place in my life.
But somehow along the way I missed the gospel. I got caught up into my life and what I deserved. I was OK with spending money however and whenever I wanted. Even though the gospel requires me to live differently; as long as I tithed and occasionally gave to a certain needs, I thought I was good. However I was selfish on many levels. I would consistently ask God to forgive me for my pride or anger…which of course are big and in-need of repentance. But my consumerism had gone unchecked for many years.
No doubt there is a hard tension between consumerism and normal American living, which is simply hard to define. But I think we need to consider how we spend our resources, not with guilt or self-righteousness, rather love and service.
Shaun Groves pretty much nailed it with this blog post. When you pick up a child that may or may not eat for days, everything changes. Life shifts in a heartbeat. You become crushed by your own personal selfishness. You become aware of how blessed you are and how much others have to over-come.
One of my passions in life is pretty simple…I desire to get every man, woman and child to spend 10-days in a third-world country. I’m convinced this will cause a dramatic shift in how we think about life and priorities. I can preach, take pictures, tell stories, create a website etc. But none of this captures the reality like going and seeing the harsh realities of third-world situations.