Among the things we spoke at about a tea was the point raised by Sider in his book that wealth is not simply a neutral product that we deal with in different ways - but that it is a curse and robs us of the joy of living in the Kingdom.
He demonstrated this in several ways in his book but one that struck me was that following world war two giving from developed world to developing worlds was at an all time high... but as we began to get richer our giving decreased... the more we have the less we give and the worse off we are... suicide, obesity, depression - those rates soar in the developed world... it's like we refuse to hear the words of Jesus to the rich young man who pointed out the thing he lacked... being free of his possessions.
The god we serve in developed countries is wealth. As we chatted about the fervent, aggressive and able army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under the dynamic leadership of the Mungates - ready to open 'fire' in at least 8 other countries around it... we were struck by the need for Australian Salvationists to catch the Kingdom readiness... and also deeply aware - personally as well - that we are slowed down most by our own trappings...
How do we fight off the 'fat spirit' of wealth, comfort and spiritual apathy?
1. live a different way (embrace simplicity)
2. live in a different place - if you constantly surround yourself by wealth and comfort.. then you will forever be comparing yourself to those with more... this will lead to the inevitable pursuit of more and you are trapped again... move in beside some poor neighbours - there are many areas of the city where this is possible..
3. give extravagantly - just keep giving it away - not so much to save the world - just to be free from the lure of wealth - when you give it away it kills the spirit of greed... do it today. Phil Wall offers this test in his book I'll Fight against materialism to test to see if you are in it's grip - take the most valuable thing you have and simply give it away. Do it.
4. Spiritual disciplines - this is a raging debate right now... do we have to pray and read the bible everyday etc... isn't that just legalism etc... I think spiritual discipline (including fasting) is one way to stay spiritually alert in a deadened culture... it's a tool against wealth and excess to train hard spiritually - I say stop debating and just get to it... bottom line - it certainly can't hurt!!
anyway, I'm just thinking outloud - but I'm aware again more than ever of wealth and it's strangle hold on the church. Ron Sider says if just the rich christians would give generously we could solve world hunger THIS YEAR... just the rich christians... oh, and in case you feel like you are off the hook - that's you!!