INSTRUCTIONS TO THE RICH
It is October, 2017. I am sitting at my dining room table, looking out over the terrace towards the Bujumbura city center. The weather is cooler in the mornings and heats up throughout the day. We have decided to home school Judah, our 11 year old. He is currently sitting next to me very eagerly doing a math lesson.
We have been here for about 6 weeks now and our routine is starting to find its groove. Getting a house set up here takes a really long time. Burundi is underdeveloped and that means that the roads are broken, the shops are difficult to access, the buying options are limited and the quality of what is sold is very low. Burundi imports everything and what they can afford to import is poor quality. Anyone moving to Burundi from the First World has to make a major mental shift in order to be grateful for what they do have, rather than annoyed by what they don’t. Anything we have in our house here, although poor quality by our standards, is still luxurious compared to what local villagers have. The stark contrast between rich and poor is always glaring at me…no matter where I live. But despite the jumbled feeling of life here, I cannot help but feel that it is a privilege…
A privilege – why? It is just this simple: those of us with MUCH must share with those who have LITTLE. Wherever we are in the world, and whatever that translates to – we MUST share our stuff. We did not select the strata of society that we would land up in as our newborn head appeared in this world. So here we are, not by choice – but by the Almighty’s design. And in my state of “richness” that the Almighty chose for me – He wrote down many instructions in His Word on what to do with these riches. I am not the Savior. I cannot offer deliverance from poverty, or miraculous healing or prevention of life trauma or eradication of war zones. No, those are the tasks of the Creator -who sits on His glorious throne – doing as He pleases – with all righteousness, all glory, all love, all holiness. His ways are not my ways, I am the clay and am not to question the Potter.
But, what can I do? I can share, I can help, I can make sacrifices, I can share the Gospel, I can pray, I can smile. I can encourage. I can speak the truth in love. I can obey the Scriptures. I can choose to not obsess over what I want, but consider what others need. I can be a Christian and act like one! I do not think I’m more holy because I am in a poor country. No, this is simply where God wants me. So, this is a privilege – because working with the very poor stills me, slows me down, causes a deep pondering inside of me, as I mull over the Word of God and consider His ways and His heart for all of His people.
It is widely taught in First World churches that if you are poor you have failed. You have failed to have audacious faith, you have failed to really understand scripture, you have failed to sow seed according to some specific set of seed-sowing rules, you don’t make declarations over your life, you have failed to identify hidden bloodline curses or hidden sin, you don’t pray enough, you don’t give enough and SO ON! I’ve been taught all sorts of strange things about money being redeemed or cursed. Based on these teachings – it would follow in Burundi – that 95% of Burundian Christians have failed! But alas! These teachings cannot be Christ’s – because poor people are generous!! They give and share all the time. They have faith! They believe in Jesus and love and trust Him. So why are they still poor?!! Because Jesus did not teach that getting out of poverty was the goal! He NEVER taught this. He simply said, some on this earth will be rich and others will be poor and gave instruction to each group on how to please God in either state. Quite frankly – the poor are precious, they have grateful hearts, they are kind and joyful. So, what really is blessing? Is it MONEY, really? As we look at the beatitudes we see many descriptions of blessing – not ONE of them has to do with being financially prosperous.
So take courage! If you are on the poorer side – you are NOT CURSED! Nor are you deaf to God apparently whispering to you to give away $33.33 because someone told you that Jeremiah 33:3 is an awesome verse and so you should give in multiples of 3 (superstition!). Of course God can speak to us and guide us – but He has also given us a brain – so if you have a lot, just give some away!!