Those of you who know me know that on occasion I don’t hold back from speaking my opinions. Some times it’s beneficial, and sometimes it’s just brutal. The latter came just a few days ago while speaking to a group of young leaders. I had suggested that the poor were bound by oppression and that often that bondage came about via, not simply the very rich and the very greedy, but in fact those of us who hold even just a little wealth. I was suggesting that it was our obsession with making sure our lives were neat, tidy and comfortable that prevented the kind of revolutionary transformation Jesus talks about…and instructs. I think we often feel that this world will be transformed politically and economically when we oust the fat and wealthy oppressive land owners. The proletariat will rise in triumph over injustice when they break through the privileged few. The problem as I see it is that it’s not a privileged few, it is about 80% of the western world who refuse to believe that they are not entitled to everything they reap, just because they happen to reap these rewards legally. The system is skewed and it is our responsibility as a middle class to stop the cycles of injustice that continue our current cycles of poverty.
The question was then posed, are we supposed to make ourselves poor? It’s a good question, perhaps a little elementary in its ‘cause and effect’ conclusion, but none the less I feel it is a common conception and in fact, was the second time I had heard it that week. And of course the answer is no. I am not calling us to live in poverty. (If this were the case, there would just be more of you to liberate, and I don’t have the time, sorry!) No, I am not calling us to be poor, rather I am calling us to live simply. Evaluate what is an essential, and then throw the rest of the fat to the hungry. And it’s not all about possessions and money. Freedom is going to be far more costly than that. I am calling good teachers into poorly performing schools. I am calling good doctors into Bulk Billing clinics. I am calling nurses out of the private system. I am calling students into welfare degrees instead of commerce degrees, and those that have commerce degrees into jobs that will alter our poorly weighted economy. I am calling employers to take a chance on an unemployed youth, even though you know you will lose a little capital. I am calling good parents to volunteer in small, disadvantaged schools instead of to a school that runs like clock-work with the 50 intelligent parents that force it to be so for the sake of their child’s future. Of course, it is about wealth too. I am calling all of us to spend our money at justgifts instead of buying more junk we don’t need that will only serve as a reminder of your greed and excess instead of the love and care that was intended from the gift. I am calling us to give away our tax rebate, given you probably didn’t miss it during the year…or have you already spent it on that new DVD player you didn’t need or the credit card you filled in anticipation?
I guess I am saying that we need to be aware and active if we are going to make a difference. I sometimes get the feeling those who have wealth are tired of feeling guilty for being wealthy. I get the feeling that they are being asked to do and give a huge amount just because they happen to be comfortable. And it is this aspersion that offends and upsets many of the wealthy Christians I know. Well, get used to it! Or do you think you ‘deserve’ your wealth and privileged position?
Feel free to be offended,