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“God created an economy of enough. God didn’t create a world of scarcity. But we’ve created poverty and need by not living out this command to love our neighbor as ourself.” ~ Shane Claiborne

I love the truth of this. This concept is so profound, and I think it’s something that most would shove under the rug, rather than talk or even think about or acknowledge it.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. The problem is that we think we don’t need to, for some reason or another. We choose, instead, to love ourselves.. we choose to love ourselves oh-so-much more than we love our neighbors. I feel like sometimes it is a conscious choice, while at other times it just sort of happens, an instinctive, involuntary reaction to everyday life.

When we choose this backwards way, it creates an atmosphere of greed, while if we actually loved as we are meant to, the opposite would happen. An atmosphere full of generous giving would fill the space around us.

Through our greed and our lack of love for our neighbors, we have created poverty and need. We have made these problems abound in this world.

Sometimes it’s easier just to close our eyes or turn our backs to poverty, but it really does abound, and it is such a huge part of reality. It is all around us.

We are so consumed with getting more.. with getting the latest, greatest, new and improved, and everything more than we could ever desire. This culture runs rampant throughout human life.

We use the words “need” and “want” so freely..  These are words I have noticed the overuse of for ages, but I have just fairly recently become so aware of the extent of this.

I realized a few weeks ago how much I have that I don’t even need. Not only that I don’t need, either. I realized also that, while some things are nice to have, if I evaluate my heart, I don’t really even desire those things. I don’t need every flavor of mist that Bath & Body Works ever invented, even if I do get them at a discounted price. Every $4 t-shirt at Kohls does not need to be in my closet. The movie in the Walmart $5 bin and a cd.. well, I can get those at the library.

This isn’t to make some sort of pedestal beneath me, because I’ll be the first to say I definitely don’t belong there. Rather, it is a chance to take a look – a deep, heart-searching, more-honest-than-I’ve-ever-been-with-myself look – at my life and the culture I wrap myself in.

I began to think about all the people who work so hard and only get to come home every few weeks.. and only make a dollar or two every day. I began not only to think about it, but to deeply ponder this problem.

Deep need and poverty… this is an issue I have come face-to-face with, especially – but not solely – during my stays in Nicaragua. The people I have met there have so little. They literally have less than what most Americans would call “nothing”… and yet they so truly are grateful for what they have. They are so excited to open their homes and invite us in, and to offer us the only chair in their tiny shack, while they stand.

It is such a contrast to America, where I sign into facebook and find that everybody and their brother is posting about how they dropped their phone in the toilet and have to get a new one.. and how they are going to die in the meantime.. and how today stunk because they had to work. I’ve found myself blocking that kind of post, especially lately. Because it just doesn’t matter.

I’d rather focus my attention elsewhere. On Jesus. On people who are honestly grateful for every single meal they eat. On purposing my own heart to be thankful for the hours I get to work and for all the little odd jobs my dad has had the opportunity to do for others while searching over a year for a new “real” job. On giving everything I am able to somebody in need.

I’ve experienced the joy of giving through being a part of delivering bags of food staples to the coffee farmers in the mountains of Nicaragua, just to name one instance. That one experience, though not enough to fulfill the need to give in my life, is plenty big enough of an example to cite. I remember one family in particular… with 13 children.

children in the coffee fields

children in the coffee fields

They lived in 2 tiny shacks that were both full of holes and would be also full of mud with the slightest bit of rain. Only 7 children are pictured here because the other 6 were already out working in the coffee fields with their parents. They literally have nothing. Less than nothing. And yet where the people know God, you see the most genuine smiles. More genuine than those of most United States Americans. What a difference from the culture I find myself in the midst of…

God’s economy of enough.. includes Himself. He is enough.. more than enough. He is our one need. To love ourselves more than others raises us up higher and we come to think that we can find our needs elsewhere. That’s where the scarcity comes in. Nothing else can fill the need that only God fits, and we go crazy trying to find something – a person/relationship, a hobby, clothes, shoes, cars, etc – something to take our minds off of that void. To distract us from the scarcity we face and don’t understand.

God created an economy of enough.. and look at what we’ve gone and done to that. It needs to change. Not through some government program, but through our attitudes and our lives. Through the church as a whole. This world is so messed up, and we are the ones who hold the answer.. we have the secret they are so desperately searching for. And still all we can think about is what restaurant to eat supper at tomorrow and going to the mall if we can get out of working.

It tears up my heart.

He must be enough for us. Otherwise we find ourselves in a never-ending spiral of greed that spins faster and faster to the point of being out of control. Sadly, that’s what I see. It must change, and I must do whatever I can to contribute to changing this culture.

I am choosing to be intentional about this. Very intentional, very purposeful in my thoughts, words, and actions.