Monday, July 19, 2010

Ministering to the Rich?

"LUKEWARM PEOPLE are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, 'Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.' Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel 'called' to minister to the rich; very few feel 'called' to minister to the poor." p. 75

When I returned back from Nicaragua a few months ago, my life was forever changed. I knew going in that my life would be changed, but I had absolutely no idea how profound the change would be... nor how devastated I would feel upon my return. The first few days were great...euphoric even. But, soon, I felt this twinged of guilt. Going to Starbucks for my $5 coffee just seemed a little wrong after spending a week with kids that pick through trash for their food. But, it wasn't just my frequent trips to Starbucks that had me bowing my head in shame. Everywhere I looked, in every aspect of my life, there was this perverse sense of abundance... my house, my car, my clothes, the food in my fridge, my antiques dining room furniture that we hardly ever use, our timeshare at Disney. Do you see where I'm going here? Before I knew what happened, I found myself in this horrible funk, almost a depression, about how I was living my life... wasting the privileges that God had allowed me to have.

I remember talking to my sister shortly after I returned home and she told me not to feel guilty about what I have or where I live... that I had worked hard for those things, that my husband had worked hard for them and that God would want us to enjoy our position in life. At the time, I was pretty offended at the idea, but now it's more like disgust. On the trip, one of the women shared that she also struggles with these feelings... but I liked her answer much better. She believes that God entrusts us with so much because we are willing to go, to give, to serve. Now, obviously, that's not the case with everyone in our privileged, elitist society. But, it at least places a purpose before us.

I really love the second half of Chan's characteristic..."Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel 'called' to minister to the rich; very few feel called to minister to the poor." Now, I have to admit that one of the reasons I like this is because I'm off the hook here! I'm definitely NOT called to minister to the rich...but I know a lot of people that 'say' they are. I think the overwhelming majority of those people, however, have wrongly interchanged the terms "minister to" and "hang out with." Some people wear the label of Christian as a badge of honor...and rightfully they should. But a problem arises when that badge of honor becomes more of an excuse to live an indulgent lifestyle... for the sake of His kingdom, of course. I know quite a few people that live this way, rationalizing their behavior as service to the lord. But, in reality, these people (at least the ones I know) aren't 'ministering to the rich'... there are no tangible differences in their lifestyles. God is not glorified. In fact, the only way you would assume they were Christians is to see them at church on Sunday...they don't talk to their friends about Christ, they don't refuse to use his name in vain, they don't show restraint in what they say or do.
And, please, know that I'm not passing judgment. I'll be the first to admit that ministering to the rich is HARD. And I'll also admit that I don't have what it takes to do it... I've tried. My husband and I have some really great friends that are most definitely called to this ministry... and they do it incredibly well. I honestly don't know how they do it so well. Their love for God shows in their lives, in their words, in their actions. They have no problem talking to their "rich" friends about God... even if it means losing their friendships... I guess the important question here is whether we can all say the same.
I was going through my emails yesterday and came across this video. It was sent to me by my friend, Pete, after we got back from Nicaragua. Watch it... what does it say to you?

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