Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Still Lack One Thing

Nine Steps to Third World Living

1. Take out the furniture: leave a few old blankets, a kitchen table, maybe a wooden chair. You’ve never had a bed.

2. Throw out your clothes. Each person in the family may keep the oldest suit or dress, a shirt or blouse. The head of the family has the only pair of shoes.

3. All kitchen appliances have vanished. Keep a box of matches, a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a handful of onions, a dish of dried beans. Rescue the moldy potatoes from the garbage can: those are tonight’s meal.

4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, take out the wiring and the lights and everything electrical.

5. Take away the house and move the family into the toolshed.

6. No more postman, direman, government services. The two-classroom school is three miles away, but only two of your seven shildren attend anyway, and they walk.

7. Throw out your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, insurance policies. You now have a cash hoard of 5 dollars.

8. Get out and start cultivating your three acres. Try hard to raise $300 in cash crops, because your landlord wants one third and your moneylender 10 percent.

9. Find some way for your children to bring in a little extra money so you have something to eat most days. But it won’t be enough to keep bodies healthy – so lop off 25 to 30 years of life.

Does this exercise get your attention? When I first read this article (I don’t know the author), I bowed my head in reverence and praised God for his goodness and for the countless material blessings that he has given my family.

Americans are quite adept at losing perspective. We are quick to complain about our circumstances, to be jealous of others, and to be bitter about what we do not have. We forget that even in poverty, we are richer (in material measures) than the vast majority of the world.

A simple, yet challenging question: Does our wealth blind us to the plight of others? What do we make of Jesus’ command to the rich ruler? “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Luke 18.22).