Saturday, 23 July 2011
Many Christians do not take to any vows of poverty or simplicity. I find this to be more than unfortunate. While we may not be commanded to invest in poverty for ourselves we are commanded to invest in the poor with the currency of love through deeds. This is often called charity in the Christian tradition but it does not mean charity in the way we often think of the term. It means merciful giving.
Derek Webb sings a song entitled Take to the World in which he sings, "you must become what you want to save because that's still the way he takes to the world." The Apostle Paul was willing to become all things to all people so that some might be saved. In scripture and early writings Christians are said to be "poor while making many rich." To become what one seeks to save is to practice incarnation. Charity in the most modern sense is not enough. There must be more than donations made. There must be self-transformation and self-sacrifice made for others.
Part of being Christian is to do, to work, to meet faith with true deeds. The truest of Christian deeds is sacrifice. Paul tells the Church in Rome that they are to present themselves as living sacrifices for that is their spiritual act of worship. Christian work is most often the deed of giving up. Christ gave up his life and told his follows to pick up their crosses and do the same. The church in Acts consisted of believers giving up their finances and property (this is a way in they became poor while making many rich).
Mother Theresa also said that if you have two pairs of shoes the second belongs to the poor. We do not have to live with one pair of shoes to be Christian but we must give up all we have and all we are to truly put deeds to our faith if our faith is in Christ Jesus who gave himself up so that we might live. We must learn to practice incarnational living so as to reflect the love of God. If we have fifty pairs of shows we must find a way to allow that fact to compliment a solidarity with those who do not have shoes. Everything we have, do, and are is either helping our case or fighting against it. Too often we are idle in our way of living. Too ofte we are not intentional, not incarnational. When one has few possessions it is difficult to be idle with them for everything one has becomes more important and everything one gives becomes more sacrificial. Yes, a lifestyle of poverty is not commanded but it must be admitted that it is beneficial. If not for an entire life then a vow of poverty or simplicity ought to be taken at least for a time.
What are some ways in which you can practice giving up right now? What are ways you can seek to find solidarity with those away from Christ or away from heavenly blessings while on earth? What is keeping you from living out incarnation?