I’ve had some pretty expensive thoughts lately. You see, in my life I have a real knack for being able to spot the inadequacies and shortcomings of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I love to critically examine their lives because it is a good way for my pride to get a boost and it doesn’t really cost me anything. But lately, I’ve started to see the shortcomings in my own life pretty clearly. The only problem with facing your own shortcomings is that oftentimes these realizations can be quite costly. I’ve started to see that in my life—most of the time—I am all talk and no action. So I figured maybe instead of pointing out the problems of Christians in the world, I would instead point out the problems I see in my life and how I hope to change myself in order to further Christ’s Kingdom on this earth.
One of my favorite things to do is to go to my local Christian bookstore about once a week to check out the new goods on their shelves. Rarely do I leave without spending $20 on the latest CD or book that catches my eye. Now I don’t think there is anything downright wrong or evil in this behavior, but during my last visit to the bookstore, I suddenly felt a strong conviction about how I spend my money. I asked myself: Is it pleasing to Christ for me to drop $15 on a CD with the newest renditions of my favorite worship songs, or $20 on the new book by one of my favorite Christian authors? Now I am not and will not speak about how others should spend their money—remember, I’m trying to figure out my own thoughts. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and must be convinced in their own minds. But I believe I have let the consumerism that is so prevalent in America to grab a hold of me, thus affecting the way I spend money in the Christian sub-culture. Maybe the next time I go to the Christian bookstore, instead of spending $20 on a book that will explain in detail how to love my neighbor, I should take that $20 and use it to provide safe drinking water, or nourishing food for any one of the millions of people around the globe who currently live without.
A couple of days after my trip to the bookstore, I spent a few hours on the World Vision web site (www.worldvision.org) and became convinced that I need to make some drastic changes in the way I spend my money. I waste so much money on food and carbonated beverages while so many people in this world are dying of starvation. If I simply gave up drinking carbonated beverages, which are so unhealthy for me anyways, I could contribute well over $500 a year to provide basic needs to those without. I asked myself: Isn’t that worth it? Wouldn’t it be worth giving up soda in order to provide clothing, food and clean water for three children a year? The answer in my own life has become quite clear. Yet there are so many other things I could sacrifice … I could give up at least one meal a month with my wife at a nice restaurant, and contribute another $350 a year. Slowly, the more I let my mind dwell on these thoughts, the more I began to feel a little like Oskar Schindler in the movie Schindler’s List, except it is not too late for me. In many ways, it is just the beginning.
I am now faced with the question, am I willing to deny myself for the sake of others? Am I willing to make sacrifices in my own life to better the life of someone else? Soren Kierkegaard once described two types of Christians: the first being those who imitate Jesus Christ, and the second being those who are content to only speak about him. All too often I fall into the latter category. I would rather choose comfort than Christ. Yet by His grace and conviction, I have been able to see more clearly my own shortcomings and the changes I could make in my life, which would draw me further away from the love of this world, and closer to the love of Christ.
I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t really decided if I want to keep these thoughts or not. These thoughts are each pretty costly and would force me to strive to change many things in my life, and frankly, that’s just not fun. But then again … maybe these expensive thoughts might be worth it.