>>> After editing this blog, I realized it is much more of a call to action (perhaps for myself) than a spilling of my thoughts. But the call to action pours directly out of my thoughts, concerns, and internal conflicts. So instead of only laying out my mental musings, this post presents somewhat tangible reactions to those thoughts, which help illuminate the thoughts even more. <<<
As I told a friend recently, I’ve been thinking through a lot lately. Much of which centers on consumerism, injustices, and fair trade (I’ll get to fair trade in Part II). Don’t give up on me just yet. I don’t mean to scare you off by sounding too idealistic or extreme in the words below. But please hear me out. Something’s got to give.
How many gifts have you bought this season? How much money have you ‘saved’? I’d say I’ve bought about 12 gifts thus far (not too mention the random assortment of products I’ve bought for myself). And how much money has this added up to? Roughly $100. As I look at these numbers I think, ‘Hey, that’s not half bad’. But there’s something bigger going on here. None of my friends and family need the things I am buying for them. This is not a problem in and of itself. I mean, giving gifts can be a great way to show people you care about them. The tragedy is that there are people, all around this world, and in our own towns, who actually need gifts. They don’t have enough money to fill their kids’ lunch boxes, let alone put a Christmas dinner on the table. Beyond mere poverty, people suffer from forced labor (an estimate 2.5 million[i]). Disease also threatens many. As just one example, over 500,000 people died from Malaria in 2010[ii].
These statements are somewhat unrelated, but the basic point is this: There are people in this world in real need.
Why can I spend $100 on gifts for people who have plenty, while so many suffer? Given the prosperity in America and the unquenchable consumerism, something’s got to give. Something in my heart, something in all of our hearts, has to give. To let go of our desire for more, and to give others the more they need.
I know there are hundreds of options for giving at Christmas, and I’m sure many of you have taken advantage of these opportunities, and that is such a blessing. Maybe you gave gifts to Toys for Tots, or packed an Operation Christmas Child box. Maybe you bought baby chicks for a struggling family through Samaritan’s Purse or cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless last month.
At this season, when giving is often seen as little more than a task of gifting, I hope we may together remember how God has blessed us, and joyfully give to those in need. Not as another task on our list, but as an act of love.
“Christmas is not your birthday.”
… or your friend’s, or sister’s, or father’s either.