I had tea with two friends who, when they were each 24 years old, read the book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (about five years ago for each of them). I commented that I had also read that book when I was about 24 years old (about seven years after it was published). I thought about my life and wondered how I had done living out the principles of the book in the 29 years that have followed. I realized that I never really understood the principles until I worked at practising them in my own stumbling ways. I decided I still needed to put much more into practise. The three of us had been at an event at which Ron Sider and Shane Claiborne spoke. Ron Sider was speaking out against consumerism before consumerism became a dirty word. You might say that “he was active, when activism wasn’t cool.” Because of people like Ron Sider, Mother Theresa, and Shane Claiborne, North Americans do know that it is not acceptable to horde our wealth while the poor are oppressed and hungry. These prophets have spoken of and modeled for us the coming of the Kingdom of God on earth. They have reshaped evangelical opinions on poverty and wealth. Sider says,
We need to make some dramatic, concrete moves to escape the materialism that seeps into our minds via diabolically clever and incessant advertising. We have been brainwashed to believe that bigger houses, more prosperous businesses, and more sophisticated gadgets are the way to joy and fulfillment. As a result, we are caught in an absurd, materialistic spiral. The more we make, the more we think we need in order to live decently and respectably. Somehow we have to break this cycle because it makes us sin against our needy brothers and sisters and, therefore, against our Lord. And it also destroys us. Sharing with others is the way to real joy. – Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger.
“Sharing with others is the way to real joy.” Do I really believe that all of the time? How much of myself am I willing to share with others? Shane Claiborne reminds us that we must know those for whom we advocate and serve.
And I think that’s what our world is desperately in need of – lovers, people who are building deep, genuine relationships with fellow strugglers along the way, and who actually know the faces of the people behind the issues they are concerned about. – The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical
I thought about how I have been reading about these things and attempting to live them out for many years. I find I am in agreement with these words of Claiborne. “Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.”