Monday, September 18, 2006

A Vow of Generosity

What if affluent Christians could be persuaded to take a vow of generosity? Let me explain. Last year I noticed that many Christians gave up something as a discipline for the 40 days of Lent. I toyed with the idea of giving up coffee, or chocolate, or potato chips—maybe even all sweets. Before I could settle on the "what", one of those splinters began to move. I got to thinking, "what is really the value in me giving something up?" Rather than giving up something, what about intentionally practicing generosity for 40 days? Maybe it was just a way to avoid giving up sweets, but I've got to tell you, it was a powerful, transformative experience. I looked for opportunities to lend or give away things that could bless someone else or to go out of my way to help in random or not so random ways. It was pretty neat to see opportunities to be generous materialize. I confess that at first, I didn't jump right in. I'd see an opportunity to do something generous and then I'd weigh the cost. More often than not I had to overcome some reluctance and sometimes the opportunity passed while I was still thinking about it. Gradually, my hesitation became less-and-less and responding out of a spirit of generosity became more natural. So, somewhere along the line I got to thinking of the vow of generosity idea. See, if I give up something, who does that benefit? I understand that there might be some value in disciplining ourselves—most of us are pretty spoiled and take a lot for granted—giving something up reminds me to be thankful for all that I have. But if I take a vow of generosity, God can use me to bless others in diverse and incredible ways. Here's the challenge—give it a try. A formula that resonates with me is:
Live Simply, Give Generously and Practice Hospitality Give it some time—a month, 40 days, whatever works for you—and do it intentionally. If my thinking is correct and God blesses this initiative, it will become a habit or way of life. If you're a journaller, keep a generosity journal. If you haven't seen in already, watch the trailer from the movie Pay it Forward: Any thoughts?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Like a splinter in your mind...

Lois Mitchell "You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
Morpheus, The Matrix.
Have you found yourself feeling that way? You've been involved in church life maybe for years, but you just have this sense that something's not quite right. There's a splinter in your brain or your soul. You can't get away from it. Neither could we. Who are we? We're Lois Mitchell and Marilyn Smith, part of the new Justice Initiative at Canadian Baptist Ministries. We've been doing a lot of reading and thinking lately about global issues. There's lots of stats - I'm sure you've heard some of them. Things like:
  • 20% of the world consumes 80% of the resources
  • only 8% of people in the world own a vehicle
  • 826 million people will go to bed hungry
  • 1 in 5 people in the world don't have access to clean water

Marilyn SmithYou get the picture. What does God think of all this? As we look at the injustices in the world we'll look at ways to begin to dislodge that splinter. That's what this blog is about - living simply, giving generously and practicing hospitality.

What would our communities look like if our churches actually do this as the primary expression of their faith in Christ?

What do you think?