It is found in David Platt's book Radical. A friend sent my oldest daughter the book to read several months ago. The particular haunting words that I am referring to start at the very bottom of the 15th page. It talks about two headline articles that the writter saw sitting side-by-side placed in a Christian publication several years ago. The left side headline read, "First Baptist Church Celebrates $23 Million Building," with a lengthy article describing the churches extravagance in vivid detail. On the right was a much smaller article. It's headline read, "Baptist Relief Helps Sudanese Refugees." The article talked about how more than 350,000 refugees in western Sudan were suffering and dying of malnutrition. The article described how the Baptist had raised money to send to help them. The amount that they raised (keep in mind the $23 million just mentioned) was $5,000.00!
The book goes on to contrast the twenty-three million dollars for an elaborate sanctuary and the five thousand dollars for hundreds of thousands of starving men, women, and children, most of whom were dying apart from their faith in Christ. It doesn't take a genius to see that something is badly wrong with that picture. Sadly, most can easily see this. But then, the bulk of that "most" will still be blinded to being guilty of doing the same thing in their own lives.
As I type this, tis the Christmas Season. And I keep wondering how much we'll spend on ourselves and on our own friends and families that (in comparison to the world) really don't need it? Then, I wonder about how much we'll spend on the feast that we'll feed ourselves and stuff our already full and stuffed bellies? Some might help the poor and the forgotten. But most won't. Yet even with those that do... in comparison... will they spend $23 million on themselves and only $5,000 to go toward the 350,000? Will you spend hundreds (maybe thousands) on your own families (that really don't need it) this year, but only give 25 dollars (if you give any at all) to give toward all of the homeless and hungry?
My daughter was telling me about a friend of hers. She said that she couldn't think of what she wanted for Christmas. She (like a lot of us that can read this do) has so much, that she had to browse through catalogs, stores, and websites looking for something that piqued her I-want-that in order to even find something to ask for from her mother.
All of this was weighing on my mind as I was driving to the prison for Bible study the other night. I know that they don't have money to buy loved ones gifts, but this still applies to the moneyless. I wondered:
- Are we only being discipled and neglectig the non-discipled?
- Are we being fed and continuing to fill up, but failing to feed the hungry?
- blessed to bless.
- given to give.
- told to tell.
- taught to teach.
- shown to show.
- fed to feed.
I have scheduled my husband to speak in the men's prison on Monday. He's been hem-hawing about it... whining a bit... complaining some.... and wondering if he should take off to do it (I am scheduled to go in if he can't). I was talking to him some of all I've been writing here, and I asked him: Do you think you'll be fed at church on Sunday just to hoard in your barns (of knowledge) and keep for yourself? Or rather, do you not think you will be fed on Sunday in order to go feed the hungry (those in prison) on Monday morning? (Okay. So I was jokingly trying to guilt-trip him.)
What do we do with what we've been given? Whether money or food or manna of God's word or any other kind of blessing? Do we only keep what we've been given for ourselves, or do we turn to give to another who has been less fortunate?
I've spent part of my day today Christmas shopping. My mother-in-law gives me a check for $500 each year to do our shopping for her. There are five in my family, she gives me a hundred dollars a piece for each of us. Thus far, for me for my Christmas, I've purchased 20 wool blankets, a bulk of tarps, and have yet to get backpacks and other items to fill them. We're heading to the homeless next week to give out as many backpacks full of things for them that would be helpful. I think that this will be my best Christmas ever (it's just the beginning)! For this year, my gifts won't be all for self, but for some of those that wish they had, but they didn't. Tim told me a minute ago that he wants to do the same as I've done. So, wow, because of his kindness, we'll get to double all that and do twice as much as I'd planned to. I'm so excited that I can hardly stand it! I am not writing this here to brag and boast about what we're doing, but to perhaps provoke and move another heart to think differently, too, during this Christmas season.
Again, back to the contrast of the example of the $23,000,000.00 opposed to the $5,000.00.... let me ask this again: Do we continue to.... feed the already fed? to bless the already blessed? to uplift the already uplifted? to give sight to the already seeing? to give life to the already living?.... Or, do we look to feed the starving? to bless those that are without and less fortunate? to uplift the downcasted and down-trodden? to give sight to the blind and the unseeing? to speak life into the spiritual dying?
What will you do with what you have, with what you've been blessed with, with what you've been given? Will you help the already helped? Or look to help someone who isn't? Will you continue to give more to all those that have? Or start to give more to all those that haven't?....
I ran across this interesting site today while shopping for the homeless. Click here: Backpacks for the Homeless/How It Works if you're interested in doing something similar in your community.