Monday, August 7, 2017
“I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy.” ― Kahlil Gibran
Karen and I were watching a show we usually like about people building houses in England (called “Grand Designs”). We have seen shows about a war amputee and another where the husband gets cancer and dies while his wife finishes the house for her children. The stories are usually the kind that make you feel good, and you get to see cool houses. The last one, though, left us both with bad tastes in our mouths. It started in a predictable way, the husband had had a brain embolism and was in a coma for ten days. According to the couple it changed their lives forever, and after he recovered they decided to build a house on the Isle of Wight (off the coast of England). What made Karen and I dislike the show so much was that instead of seeing the world from a new way, the man and his wife saw it from their own egotistic way which is far from new. They borrowed heavily, went into deep debt, and built a 6,000 square foot home that cost over $5,000,000 to complete. The land alone was over a million dollars and then they had to have a swimming pool (this is England remember) and a house so big it could house a small college. Everything had to be the very best from the faucets to the flooring. It was as if they needed to make their own heaven here on earth. The man talked about being Christian but there was absolutely nothing in his spending to meet his lavish desires that had anything Christian about it.
Karen and I are embarrassed to have cement floors and power and a roof that keeps the rain out. Surrounded by huts and homes made of mud bricks, we are always aware of what we have that others don’t. There are houses near us that have metal roofs and cement floors, but the women still have to go to a well to draw water for the day—each and every day. Only two or three houses in a three mile radius have electricity with the rest lighting their homes with kerosene lanterns after dark. We have one neighbor who has a solar security light, but we helped him get that. I’ve had some near death experiences myself, but none made me want to build a huge, expensive home so that I could throw lavish parties for my friends (that was one reason given for the size of the house). My response was to sell or give away all I had and move to Africa to spend the rest of my life helping the poor in Tanzania and to expand the Kingdom of God there. I’m not saying this to make me look good (we have mirrors here, I know what I look like and “good” isn’t one of the adjectives anyone would use), but just to show the two extremes. I don’t expect everyone to do what we did—the world would screech to a halt if that happened. We need people doing their jobs and living their lives as Christian examples all over the world and right in your neighborhood. What I’m pointing out is that this man was given a second chance at life and chose to lavish money on himself as a response. I have strong Christian friends who make tons of money and live in huge palatial houses, but they give tons of money to others and live as examples of loving others first, most living on less than half of what they make. They make God smile and anyone can if they focus on others and not themselves. It’s not about the amount of money you have or the square footage of your home, it’s about where your heart is. The richer you are the more you can help others if Christ is abiding in your heart. My sister is retired and is living in a nice home in a Houston suburb, but she spends time every week working with troubled young girls, and it breaks my heart to read about what she goes through and how much she loves those to whom life has dealt a very bad hand. In colloquial English, “It ain’t about what all ya’ll got, it’s about what ya do with it for other folks.” That’s not my message, it’s Christ’s message. Be the good Samaritan, love those who hate you, forgive the ones who hurt you, care for the sick, feed the hungry, clothe the naked—the stuff you know in your heart that God wants you to do. God don’t care about how much money you have, but He do care much about what you be doin' with it. Just sayin’ . . .