Simplicity.

Don’t you love it when God has been speaking to you in ways that you can’t even explain in words, and then you decide you need to blog about it?

God has been speaking to me a lot about how The Alternative Lifestyle should look in my life, and one of the things he has used to do so is the book Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster. I had never read anything by Foster before last week, although I had heard good things about his book Celebration of Discipline. This has been one of the most life-impacting books I have ever read. You need to read it – it’s a message that is desperately needed for the Western Christian in the 21 century.

The message of the book is that God calls his followers to live simple lives, ones that are singularly focused on Him and His glory. There are a million ways for us to be simple, and it easy for us to be legalistic with it because it is the most outward of the spiritual disciplines. So understand that I am not pointing fingers in anything that I am going to say – I am just going to share with you how God is speaking to me about living a simple life.

Over the past few months I have been wondering how much we really need to survive. The consumerism that surrounds me has made me increasingly sick, especially within Christian circles. Those who claim to be living The Alternative Lifestyle can’t wait to buy the latest fashions, drive nice reliable cars, go to the nicest schools, and spend massive amounts of time and resources being entertained. Does that sound like an alternative lifestyle to you?

A couple of months ago I attended the celebration of a mission team that had gotten back from Kenya, Africa, a place that has been in the news a lot lately. During the sharing, one of the team members told us that it costs roughly $1 per month to feed an orphan through Christ’s Hope International. One dollar to give them the bare necessities of life for another month. One dollar to make sure that they are cared for. One dollar to make sure that they have the opportunity to know Christ. I came away from the meeting brokenhearted about my indifference , and the indifference of our culture. Case in point, the amount of money we spent on pizza, dessert, and soda for one meal at that meeting could have fed 10 kids for a year. Absurd.

Here’s the deal… go to www.globalrichlist.com, find out where you are on the list, and then read the rest of this. If you are living a normal Western life, I would venture to say that you are in the top ten percent of the wealthiest people in the world. Do you think that God gave us such incredible wealth so that we can spend it on the latest fashions, or the latest movie, or the latest fill-in-the-blank? Do we really think that’s what He meant by an abundant life? Do you really think that he will say “Well done, good and faithful servant” to us when there are thousands of children starving to death every day around the world, and while an estimated 6,877 people groups are unreached? That’s people GROUPS, not people. Whole groups, whole nations who have no access to the Good News, who have no Bible in their own language. Meanwhile, we continue to live our extravagant lives. You should check out a great blog I found, Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog and read the “why we share our wealth” series, especially Part 4.

Todd Agnew is wearing a shirt with a bunch of questions on it on the front of his new (INCREDIBLE) album Better Questions. The top question is, “Did Jesus really mean everything he said?” That’s a darn good question, especially regarding this living simple thing. Did Jesus really mean it when He said that it was hard for a rich man to enter heaven? If so, then why do we cling so hard to our riches? Did He really mean that the rich young ruler should sell all his possessions and give them to the poor, and then come follow Him? Did He really mean that if we have two coats we should give to the one who has none? Did He really mean that the widow gave more than the rich people because they were giving out of their abundance, but she was giving all she had for the Kingdom and trusting God to provide for her? Did He really mean that we shouldn’t worry about what we are going to eat or what we will wear tomorrow, but instead seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be given to us?

I need your prayers. God has really convicted me and broken my heart about this, and when God speaks you come to a “crisis of belief that requires faith and action” [Experiencing God] Just one (big) example: my textbooks for college cost me $50 last semester. I paid $2400 for the 4 courses. Keep in mind that I am going to school online, so I am getting my education almost solely from the books anyway. So the question then becomes: what am I paying for? The knowledge? No. That’s in the books. Man’s approval of my knowledge? Yes, that’s right, I am paying roughly $30,000 over the course of my education to get a piece of paper that says, “Yep, you know all that stuff.” so that other people will look at it and think, “Wow, he has a bachelor’s degree in Biblical studies.”

I am not being legalistic and saying that going to college is wrong for everyone. I’m just talking about my life. But think of this: based on the aforementioned stats from those in Kenya, I could feed 625 kids for 4 years with that money. 625! Think of the last time you were at an event with 600 people present. It’s a bunch.

Now you may be saying, “I’m glad you care about the world, but you need an education. It’s important.” Remember, I would be getting the education, I just wouldn’t be getting the diploma. Here are the questions in my mind: Is my diploma worth 625 orphans starving to death? Is that piece of paper worth even one precious life? If I say yes, then am I really “pro-life”? Is my higher education worth those orphans getting no education at all? Is it bitterly ironic that by getting my diploma in Biblical studies those 625 orphans will never hear what the Bible says?

As you can probably tell, I am deeply struggling with this. I would appreciate your prayers and your insights and your advice. But when you give advice, keep a little African orphan boy in mind. (A specific one I met in Mozambique… I’ll post his picture later) Hear his cries of hunger and thirst, his cries of loneliness, his cries of desperation, his cries of death… his cries in Hell?

Then multiply those cries by 625.

The sound is deafening.

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~ by lukewil86 on February 4, 2008.

4 Responses to “Simplicity.”

  1. I think that you have very few wrong options in your life, Lucas. If you completely revolutionize your life (wear burlap), I think you will grow closer to the life Jesus presented us. If you, do small things to simplify (wear goodwill), you will grow closer in a different way.

    Corey

  2. […] February 10, 2008 · No Comments There is a certain unAmerican ferocity to Jesus. people who come into contact with him are fidgety. They are challenged, and sometimes hurt. Jesus demands that we do counterintuitive things. My friend Lucas wrote a post where he wondered if Jesus really meant everything that he said (click here). […]

  3. Wow! Thanks for the blog! Our financial “struggles” are really nothing in comparison! I just asked Corey the other day why it is that there are still third world countries when there are so many rich countries capable of helping; but perhaps the better question is why are there still third world countries when there is the Church?!

  4. The only answer to this ? about getting a diploma would be ro make more money. A piece of paper may well in the end save more lives if the money that it equates to is given as you say.I may very well be trying to justify that diploma though I don’t have one and my husband does not have one. How do you argue with the cries of 600+ children? You do what God asks.

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