On Being Rich

Once upon a time, I thought I hated rich people.

After college, I spent a year as an urban missionary.  It was an incredible experience, and one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  But seeing the hopelessness and despair of poverty every day made me quick to resent anyone I thought of as “rich.”  The happy teenagers from white suburban churches whose week spent on work crews was more hindrance than help for those of us who soldiered on when they went home.  The well-dressed adults lining white suburban pews who smiled at our photos and applauded our carefully selected stories before writing another check.

And then my missionary year ended.  And I went home to my white suburban life.  I struggled with giving money to my white suburban church, and for a while I didn’t—sending it instead back to the ministry where I had spent my missionary year.  But gradually, a new realization was dawning.  I had been that happy teenager.  And I was becoming that well-dressed adult.

Compared to most of the people in the world (and many people in my own community), I am rich.  And chances are you are too.

And so the challenge stands.

Do good.  Be rich in good works.  Be generous and willing to share.

(1 Timothy 6: 18)

Maybe this means putting our charitable contributions on direct debit so we don’t forget to write a check.

Maybe it means carrying around an extra $20 bill and looking for a way to make someone else’s day a little easier.

Maybe it means clearing the stuff out of that extra bedroom and opening our homes to a child in foster care.  Or a college student.  Or a lonely grandma.

Maybe it means painting a picture.  Or cooking a meal.  Or fixing a car.  Or writing a letter.

Maybe it means making eye contact when others rush by.  Listening when others dismiss.  Allowing our hearts to be broken and our stereotypes to be replaced with faces.

Embrace the challenge.  Wrestle with the specifics.  Take the risks.  Bumble through, or soar through—it doesn’t matter.

Just do good.

Be rich in good works.

Be generous and willing to share.

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