Here is an essay that Stephanie wrote the other day:
I have been reading a book that I would highly recommend to anyone and everyone, “Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. It is an amazing look at what it means to live simply and serve wholly.
Shane is a part of a community known as the The Simple Way. He lives with a group of people in inner city Philadelphia. Their goal is to build community and love the poor like Jesus did. They live communally, which yes, means they share their incomes, possessions, and everything else with others. In our American Dream world, this is a hard concept to grasp. Most people, me included, might view this group as a bunch of hippies who make their own clothes and eat grass. As I read about this group of people, and researched communities like them, it seems they are on the right track.
Now, I’m not saying I want to run out and start a commune, though the thought is appealing, I DO believe that the Simple Way is closer to what Jesus has in mind when he teaches in Matthew about how we should pray for His kingdom to come. I think the Early Church that we read about in Acts has the right idea and that seems to be what this group is doing.
Contemplating myself living in a community like this, I come up with many conflicting scenarios.
1) If we all share the same money, what about when I see a good sale on a purse, or shoes, or cute dress at Target, H&M, Gap, Forever 21, etc. etc. I am a shopaholic. Shopping is my stress reliever. This is probably a psychological issue I need to work out, but WHAT WOULD I DO????
2) Honestly, I feel that sometimes my heart and compassion are not big enough to care about the poor. Aren’t they poor for a reason? Why don’t they have jobs? Are they are lazy and milk the welfare system for all it is worth? Yet, according to the Bible, we are called to love them.
3) Wouldn’t people think we are crazy? Hippies? A cult? I do not want to be viewed like that by others. BUT, if I truly believe what the Lord says about being hated by the world, then shouldn’t my mindset be “Who cares what others think?”
Right now I’m living in the suburbs of Chicago. I work at a place where having money doesn’t matter, but the minute I step off this campus, that all changes. I see unnecessarily large houses, strip malls on every corner, 5 year olds with cell phones, and teenagers with better cars than I could ever dream of driving. How can I be a Christian living in this culture? More importantly, is it wrong to live in this culture? Is it wrong to have a lot of money? Is it wrong to want to have a lot of money?
How can I call myself a true follower of our Lord and spend $10,000 on a wedding? Couldn’t that money go to a much worthier cause? Where do we draw the line? Is there a line?
I have worked in a suburban church, and known many wonderful people with wonderful hearts. They open their homes up to youth groups and missionaries, and roll into church on Sundays in their Lexus. I have gone to Willow Creek a few times since I have lived out here. While I know they are doing many good things and helping with many different causes nation wide and world wide, it just seems that instead of building such a huge building with water fountains and busses and a different stage design every week, they could be using that money for more important things--perhaps feeding a hungry kid in Chicago. At the same time though, my heart is torn because, like I said, I know the church is doing good things.
I guess a lot of us believe that if we just give to Compassion or donate to short term mission trips, then we are fulfilling our obligation to give to the poor. I do not want to discount giving to these worthwhile causes, or giving in general because it is a spiritual gift. But, is shelling out cash to these organizations while still living in the American Dream bubble enough?
This is where my heart is. I feel torn and unable to express everything I feel. I want to have money, a retirement plan, a reliable car, nice clothes, a beautiful home, but in the end, this will all still leave me empty. I know why it was so hard for the rich man who Jesus told to give up everything to follow Him had such a hard time with that idea.
I believe it is impossible to pursue Christ and pursue the American Dream. We have the promise of mansions in heaven, so why am I trying to find mine while I’m living here on earth?