Poverty, Simple Living & the Gospel
I just finished reading “Happy Are You Poor” by Thomas Dubay which is about what “authentic Gospel poverty” means. He basically questions how anyone can call themselves a follower of Christ without a striving towards poverty as expressed in the Gospel. Dubay distinguishes poverty from destitution, and the different levels that are proper to one’s vocation (i.e. religious, lay single, married) but overall the book is a really challenging read.
How we spend our money is of the utmost importance. And when millions of people are starving while America is an obese nation, it becomes all the more important to give the topic serious thought. But it’s an especially difficult subject since we all have our own idea of what is a decent standard of living, of what a “simple living” is.
Is owning one car too materialistic or ok? Two cars? Three cars? What about $100 dinners? $200 dinners? Or yearly vacations? Or $100 pairs of pants? Or $50 pants? There’s no doubt that what you would call “excess” on this list, someone else would view as a necessity and not a luxury.
And since it will be a while before I can clarify my thoughts on the subject, better to just share with you some of the questions Dubay poses that are certainly worth considering:
- Am I in love with God? If not, why not? What else matters?
- Do I rationalize my lack of factual frugality on the plea that “after all, I am detached from what I have?”
- Is my concern for the dire destitution of the millions in the third and fourth worlds mostly abstract, or does it change my concrete manner of living?
- Do I give to the poor not only from my superfluities but also from my own need?
- Am I vain in my dress…home…its furnishings…cars…or other possessions?
I know it’s much easier to just click away from the blog and not give it a second thought, but as Christians, how we live either enhances or reduces the credibility of the Gospel – so think about it!