Not only have I heard of children rummaging through the garbage looking for scraps to eat, regardless of what it is, but I’ve seen it first hand. Throughout the world children die before the age of five due to malnutrition, lack of food, clean water and preventable disease. This is a travesty. There is so much that we can – and should – do about that. But where should we start?
In the Bible, in Luke 21 we read about a woman in the temple who, out of her poverty, gave all that see had. Her ‘all’ consisted of two copper coins, comparable to two pennies. Yet while others gave considerably more than her, Jesus stated:
This poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.
Reading that led me to consider what I have and I’m doing with it. I have more than two copper coins, but am I willing to give beyond my wealth and consider moving into the uncomfortable for the sake of others? This moves beyond the philosophical ‘what am I willing to do’ and into ‘what am I actually doing’.
For many of those around the world, they choose to eat whatever they can find. Sadly to say, some days there is nothing to eat. In contrast, we look in our stocked pantry or frig and say there isn’t a thing to eat. Or better yet, there isn’t anything good to eat. Nonetheless, we seem to find a way as a western culture, especially in America, to over consume to the point of obesity. I’m not sure what is worse, being deathly hungry or being deathly obese.
The thing that strikes me on a deeper level is the fact that we have taken our consumer-driven, American culture and transferred it into our Christianity. We make the Church about how can we fulfill our needs with Jesus. But do we ever reach our fill? The simple answer is no. In contrast, our brothers and sisters in Christ that suffer from malnutrition and hunger have the faith that leads them to pray for us.
The first time I heard that foreign, poverty-stricken believers are praying for me, my arrogance led me to question why. Why is it, that a ‘blessed’, middle-class American Christian would need the prayers of a lowly, destitute man or woman in India?
A few years ago I attended an event called The Global Leadership Summit and one of the speakers, Dr. Wess Stafford; President of Compassion International spoke on behalf of Pastor Stephen Sundar, an Indian pastor. His message was one of encouragement to us to remember what it is we have. We (westerners) pray that God would ‘bless’ our third-world brothers and sisters; meanwhile they pray that we would become hungry for God. The contrasts in our situations are almost ironic. We are blessed monetarily, while they are blessed with faith and miraculous workings from God. Pastor Sundar stated that he is appalled that American Christians actually go lengthy times without being in the Word of God. That we can literally go days without prayer; the facets of our relationship with God that we are to hold dearest. He hurts for us that we can deprive ourselves so much of the real necessities of life. Though we have food on our tables, we lack God’s clear direction in our life. Though they lack food in their stomachs, they are bursting at the seams with the blessings and joy that Christ has. The saddest part about it all is that while our brothers and sisters around the world would do nearly anything for clean water, proper nutrition and food to eat, we have the Word of God readily available. In fact, we have a surplus of bibles. I have at least close to ten bibles, not even counting the apps on my phone.
They are hungry out of need, but we are hungry out of negligence. Who then is truly poor?
Hosea, who spoke for God, stated in a charge against Israel:
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”
So God rejected his chosen people because of their lack of knowledge of him? While this knowledge definitely has elements of having good theology, I don’t think we can leave it there. I think the Israelites, once again, lost their zeal to pursue God. They became complacent in their lives and weren’t hungry for the Word of the Lord. Does this sound at all familiar? That is us. We have lost our zeal for the Lord. We have systemized everything to the point of a logical explanation for every occurrence in our life. We don’t need God to show up, because we have done such a good job of providing for ourselves. We haven’t even begun to realize the depths of our depravity. We are nothing outside of what we are in God. Just as it says in Psalm 73, skating by without being with God really hasn’t gotten us anywhere. It leads us down a slippery road, with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.
We need God. Apart from him we are nothing. I pray that God indwells in you a hunger that you’ve never experienced. His Word will fulfill you in a way you never knew possible. Drop your negligence, grab the food and begin to eat.