Rich in this Present World
You are rich. I’ve already told you that, so you know it, but just as a reminder, if you have running water, shelter, clothes, food and some form of transportation, including public transport, than you are in the top 15% of the world. If you have a car, you are in the top 8%.
So we (the Americans, basically) have to deal personally with Jesus’s admonitions to the rich. And since many of you are now on your own or getting there, you need to make some life decisions. How much wealth are you going to allow yourself when many don’t have enough to eat? This is a painful question for those of us immersed in the US American Dream culture. There are no formulaic answers or solutions that encompass everyone. This is one of those things you have to struggle with God about. And once you decide what God is leading you to do, it’s hard not to condemn other Christians who aren’t in the same place or making the same decisions.
But one solution to consider is one I heard decades ago at a Christian college. And I recently saw it repeated in Radical by David Platt. You can determine a modest level of living, a maximum income, and live there no matter how much you make. You give away everything over that income level. Many Christians have chosen to do this. I know one preacher who, in retirement, gives away 75% of his income. And my friend’s friend, a brain surgeon and wife, lived in a house about the size of mine while raising several kids. Francis Chan and his wife sold their large house to live in an average house. And Rich Mullins lived on the wages of the average laborer in Kansas City, while giving the rest away (as Cason's attached song tells us. And I don't know why it always posts the picture twice). There are so many more stories like this that I don’t have room to tell. And yes, I know that some will never even reach the “modest level of income” they choose. Not everyone prospers financially, but we are still told to give generously and sacrificially. It’s not just to feed the world; it frees us from the slavery of money and bondage to our desires for things, experiences, and security.
SO, it’s January 1, the day of new beginnings and resolutions and budgets and good intentions. As Paul says in I Timothy 6:21. “Command those who are rich in this present world . . . . to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Life that is truly life. That’s worth investing in.