So. Very. “Interrupted” – Week One
“Our hope is that through our story, you might identify where God is leading you, that you might read something that helps you overcome what is holding you back, and that you might receive permission to chase after it.”
I wholeheartedly concur with Brandon Hatmaker in the introduction to this book. God will speak to you differently that He speaks to me. His Holy Spirit will convict you differently than He convicts me. We are different people. We have different gifts. We live and work in different spheres of influence. But, one thing I will not sugar-coat is that He has called you to help the needy. Make no mistake about it.
There is no waiting to be called. It’s been done. Read the Great Commission in Matthew 28. There is no doubt He wants you to help the poor, the widowed, the orphaned. Read pretty much any other book in the Bible. But, as we work through this book together, we will pray for God’s specific call on our lives. We will pray for each other. We will encourage each other in the faith. As my partner in crime says, we will get off our tooshy and serve those in need.
As far as format goes, I am simply going to highlight main points where God spoke to me. You must know I could have highlighted every other stinking paragraph. But I really tried not to! Please feel free to make comments about my main points AND/OR bring up how God spoke directly to your heart as well!! I am praying for life change. Not for us to just stumble around together dizzied by this transformational message and conviction from God.
Without any further ado…let’s break into Chapter One – Winter 2007
“If you truly love me, you will feed my lambs. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and dreaming about your next house.” (p.27)
Ouch. This was stung. As well it should.
I, like Hat (that’s our nickname for Jen Hatmaker because my partner in crime is Jen too!) So, anyway…I, like Hat, grew up in church. I was a PK. I was there every time the doors were open. I worked as a counselor and director at a Christian camp for a third of my life. I was on church staff. And so on and so forth. How in the stinking world I managed to mentally limit “His people” to the ones who look like me, vote like me, worship like me, and are American like me, I have no idea. I feel like an absolute fool. The level of justification we, as Americans, use to determine who does and does not deserve help/relief/blessing is nothing short of sickening. My prayer is that God gets a hold of the limitations and segregations our hearts have put upon this – and crushes them to obliteration. Even better, just smote them, Lord. You heard me – smote them. The judgments, not the people. For now.
“It won’t suffice to claim good intentions. Saying “I meant well” is not going to cut it. Not with God screaming, begging, pleading, urging us to love mercy and justice, to feed the poor and the orphaned, to care for the last and least in nearly every book of the Bible. It will not be enough one day to stand before Jesus and say, “Oh? Were you serious about that?” (p. 27-28)
Does anyone else feel like they just found out their best friend in the whole world’s birthday was last week and you completely forgot to even send a birthday txt? Oh shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Guilt mixed with anger mixed with disappointment and frustration at yourself, all topped with a large dose of shame and shoulda-known-better-ness.
Well, that’s fine. I’m there too. But, the only way those feelings are anything more than feelings is if they drive us to action.
Read Galatians 2:9-10 -“James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
Paul is talking about his ministry to the Gentiles (the non-Jews, accepted by grace and faith in Jesus) and the ministry of James (Jesus half-brother) and Peter, which was to the Jews (born ‘God’s people’ and driven by The Law). They were not the same. At all. But, they respected each other. They held the same goals in the forefront of their minds. James and Peter were called to preach ‘clean the inside of your cup’ type messages to the self-righteous Jewish culture. Paul was called to preach ‘by grace you’ve been saved’ to those not born into the ‘right’ bloodline. Both of these ministries were crucial to the beginnings of the early church.
James and Peter (known as two of the ‘pillars of their faith’) had given Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship and agreed Paul should go to preach the good news to the Gentiles. But pay special attention to verse 10 – “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
It’s all. they. asked.
They didn’t ask to give them the credit.
They didn’t ask to make sure they had pews and not chairs.
They didn’t ask to ensure their dress code was up to par or their music wasn’t too hard core.
All they asked was for Paul to continue to remember the poor.
These two such different ministries – with one common mission. To be Jesus to the people. And by this, to remember the poor.
And how did Paul react? Obedience. After all, this was ‘this very thing he was eager to do.’ The Greek word for eager is a verb, not an adjective. It is a verb that means: to make haste; to exert oneself; to endeavor; give diligence.
Exert oneself. Exert myself. Exert thyself. Enough said.
“For all my self-proclaimed love of God’s Word, what I really loved were the parts that worked for me. For my good. For my blessings.” (p.30)
Um, yeah. She read my thoughts. Dangit.
“ALL of the statistics on pages 32-33!!” (Isn’t perspective a beautiful and freeing and humbling gift!?!)
I will just touch on a few of these that hit me hardest.
I am almost among the wealthiest 1% in the entire world. Me? What!?! I thought we were broke! Doesn’t she know that I stay home with my kids and my husband is in education for goodness sakes? Yep, she knows. That doesn’t change the math. I am wealthy. And not only in the good-Christian-says-my-treasures-are-in-heaven kind of way. Literally – I am wealthy. As in 99% of the people in the world are more broke than I am. Most of them would kill (and do kill!) for the leftover change I have under my couch cushions and in the floorboard of one of my two cars. Ugh, shoot me now.
I complain about the yucky water in my old house’s faucets, and therefore justify buying bottled water and/or Brita purifiers when 40% of the world has no water to drink that won’t cause them to get sick or die. I feel certain they’d happily drink from my old faucet.
And this one got me the hardest – we hear about the Jewish Holocaust and how awful it was. And, it was beyond awful. But, in my generation, we have only heard about it. We think, If I’d have been alive, I’d have tried to do something more to help those people. Yet, we sit back with Starbucks cup in hand, while the equivalent of SEVEN TIMES that many people die every single year from starvation, disease and malnutrition. Every year. Yet, everywhere I turn around I see an American man, woman and child who are overweight or obese. The contradiction is almost too much to take in.
Right now, Americans make me sick. Oh wait, I is one.
(In response to the quotes from three prominent American Christian leaders)“…God wants American kids to go to college but He’s ok with sixty-five million orphans panhandling in Asia? God wants to give us ‘nice things’ but doesn’t care about helping Africans with things like food and water? It’s ridiculous!” (p.36)
In full disclosure, I cannot personally comment toward the public Christian leaders’ comments with a good heart right now. This one gets me pretty fired up, actually.
Here’s the deal – prosperity preaching is crap. It just is. God cares so much more deeply about our character, our motives, our selfless and pure acts of love than He does about our home’s square-footage or the promotion we receive with freaking stock options. Don’t get me wrong – He cares about it – but only because He cares about us. To say that what God wants most for us, aside from salvation, is for us to live on earth as wealthy, successful, and happy people, is quite a stretch from…well, reality. And, it is a giant leap away from Scripture.
How do you explain poverty? Or disease? Or the trafficking of millions of children?
Especially if you hear on Sunday morning that God just wants us to be happy here on earth. Really? Hmmm. I guess just us then. Not them.
Yes, God loves it when His kids are happy. But, I believe He cares far much more about our holiness than our happiness.
When we begin to equate His favor by our qualifications of wealth, health and prosperity…we are missing the point. And perhaps, missing His deepest favor altogether.
“As Ghandi once famously said, ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” (p. 36)
Unfortunately, I think Ghandi hit the nail right on the American head.
Obviously we are unlike Christ because we are not perfect. Given. But, let’s not use that as a cop-out. Ghandi said we are SO unlike our Christ. And, to be so unlike our Christ is beyond sad. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Debbie Downer. I know personal people, yes, Americans, who give generously, love deeply, serve faithfully and are very much like our Christ. I could list them by name if I thought they wouldn’t be embarrassed.
But, the rest of us – most of us – look awfully similar to everyone else in America who doesn’t give God the time of day, much less proclaim to follow Him. And, trust me, read any chapter of any gospel…our Christ looked nothing, acted nothing, spoke nothing like anybody else in His culture.
“We stand at the intersection of extreme privilege and extreme poverty, and we have a question to answer: Do I care?….I won’t answer one day for how the U.S. government spent billions of dollars on the war in Iraq ($601 billion and counting when $9 billion would solve the planet’s water crisis) nor will I get credit for the general philanthropy of others. It will come down to what I did. What you did.”
We will stand before God one day and give account. That is not a theory. It is a fact. God ahead and stop and picture that for a minute. His pure majesty and glory beyond what we can imagine. Will we be able to say that we fed His people, cared for His people…all His people? Or will we give Him our justification of how they didn’t deserve help, after all, Lord, they weren’t even contributing to social security. Sheesh.
Disclaimer: I am no politician. I am NOT looking for a political debate here. I have no label of any sort I associate with, except Christian. And Jesus served. Everyone. Every race, creed, color, religion, and economic status – He served them. He died for them. Yes, all of them, too. Really, friend, that is all that matters.
I have heard so many people say “But we have so many people here in America that are poor, homeless, widowed, etc. – why should I send money overseas when Americans are in need, as well?”
Fine. Then, get in one of your cars, and drive to a place and serve them.
“I do try to help those in need.”
No you don’t.
You either help those in need or you don’t help those in need. There is no try.
“I serve at church. I tithe. I donate clothes to Good Will. I send a check to a missionary every year.” I may or may not have said this exact type thing once all too recently.
Good! You are doing awesome in those areas of obedience. But, once again…how are you (how am I?) actually getting up and exerting thyself to serve those who are poor, homeless, widowed, and orphaned?
It ain’t rocket science, friend.
I feel this would be a good time to mention the obvious – this is not a guilt thing. The conviction of the Holy Spirit and the desire to actually obey Scripture are the only reasons for you to act on any this. Not to look good. Not to still be my friend. Not to relieve your guilt for being a wealthy American.
I am not saying we all need to quit our churches, sell our homes and move to the ghetto. But, oh my goodness gracious, we could all (myself especially!) use a swift kick in the teeth when it comes to serving the least of these.
Do it in obedience. And for Jesus Name’s sake – do it with love.
1 Cor. 13:3 “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
1 Cor. 3:12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Ok now. I have done everything in my power to keep this as brief as possible. (This is my page 5, but it easily have coulda been page 15. You know this, man.) So…please feel free now, my friends, to comment. Please be respectful of others. Speak in kindness. PLEASE share what God is saying to you. How have you been impacted? What parts of the book stood out to you? Let’s support each other as we all move together toward the goal – bringing God all the honor and glory we possibly can with our meager lives, while we can.
I simply cannot wait to hear all about what God is doing!! Love, love.
Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”
2 Cor. 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But, I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.” – Anonymous
I agree with much of what you said, and honestly will not argue what I don’t – because that is a lot of the point you made.
We as Christians spend a lot of time debating the finer points of what is “Right” instead of what is “True”.
Truth – people are starving in much of the world.
Truth – starving people have an understandably hard time believing in a loving God.
Truth – feeding the hungry is being Christ to them.
I’ve been one of them. I lived in my car. I was the recipient of loving donations of food when I had a little person and not enough money.
But, I too, grew up in church. Before I had to receive “charity” I never really knew what it meant. Charity=Love kind of Charity. My parents went on mission trips. I went on mission trips. I helped dole out food…never knew what it meant.
Recently in a Bible Study class, we talked about how we need to stop judging the homeless and just help them. People on the street corners that we often think are just lazy/drunks/beneath us , whatever…just HELP them.
That’s our job. That is what Christ told us to do! Even He fed the crowd before trying to preach to them.
I don’t know if I do it enough. I am thankful to be part of a church that LITERALLY feeds the needy. Helps the world around them – makes an effort.
I firmly believe that in order to do as Jesus asks we must remove our bums from the pews and go look around you. Poverty hurts. I think we like to ignore it because it might “rub off” on us. I didn’t like it when I was there, I wanted out. I worked 7 little jobs (with a BA) and felt like I was walking through quicksand everyday.
Caroline (still feels funny to call you that), I am glad you write what you feel. I’m glad God gave that to you. I hope this word you shared moves us all to GO into the WORLD and LOVE some people! 🙂
Sweet Scarlett – I had. no. idea. Wow. Thank you dear one for your willingness to bear your soul about, what must have been, one of the most difficult things you’ve gone through in your life. To say (as some do) that “God will never give you more than you can handle” is a gross misquote of 1 Cor. 10:13 when it says that God will not allow you to be ‘tempted beyond what you can bear’. As you (and I!) can attest, He will certainly give you more than you can handle, but He will never give us more than HE can handle. Often, the ‘more than we can handle’ that He allows is the exact thing He needed to allow to break down our walls or control, fear, pride etc. so that He can really get through to us. Pruning hurts. Period. I am so grateful to Him that He was with you while walking through quicksand. I am thankful even more so that He used it to open up your heart even more toward Him and His hurting people. I love what you said about how Christians argue what is right and what is True. I think it’s about time we focus on the TRUTH alone. Jesus, our Savior, cared about the poor and needy. The longer we stay in our ‘bubbles’ and on our pews, the less time we have to actually help. I love you dear! And please, call me Pele! 🙂 Love love.
Oh my. Where do I begin?! So, admittedly I almost stopped reading after this first chapter when I felt she was going on an America bashing rampage….but I pushed through. I’m glad I did.
My initial instinct was to make the typical defensive rationalizations ~ “Well, if they earned their money by working hard then they have the freedom to do whatever they want with it, it’s not our place to judge” or “There are plenty of good American’s who help the poor and feed the hungry, it’s not fair to paint such a stereotypical picture of the fat, selfish, rich American”. Then two things struck me. One ~ I am choosing to defend my Americanism over my Christianity (ouch). Two ~ I don’t even qualify as one of those “good American’s” that I was trying so hard to defend in my mind.
What do I do? What have I done lately? Not a darn thing. Sure, a few weeks ago I Googled some options of places where we could volunteer to feed the poor or help the homeless, but that was a few weeks ago and we haven’t actually done anything. “All of a sudden, I saw my exact reflection in Peter: devoted but selfish, committed but misguided. And that is not going to be enough. It won’t suffice to claim good intentions.” Yep that hit me. I claim good intentions all day every day, because I truly have them…..but who cares about whether I have good intentions? I have been eager to serve, but not in a verb kind of way (I love that you pointed this out for us). More of in a “when the time is right for me and we find the right church and I have the time and everything falls perfectly into place” kind of way. I now know that has to change.
So, personally God is and has been speaking to me about food literally for several months and perhaps even years (I just haven’t really listened for that long). I have developed a passion for healthy eating ~ not dieting ~ healthy. Actually eating what God put on this planet for us to eat. Not chemically enhanced or preserved or modified or hydrogenated or “made better by us humans because we need something easy and quick” garbage that passes as food these days, but actual gifts from God that grow in the ground and are made specifically to nourish our bodies as He intended them to be nourished kind of foods. I’m not sure how this fits into what Jen has written or what His plan is, but when she quoted “feed my lambs” it truly struck a cord with me. Food. Nourishment. But it needs to be for the least of these, not for the already blessed. A ministry for those in need not in want.
Sorry to be so long winded…..but we are related after all so this can’t come as a huge surprise! Thank you so much for leading us in this journey, Carrie. So excited to see how God uses this book through each of us and for His glory.
Reagan – Oh my sweet cousin, I am so blessed by your comments. I am proud of you for pushing through your initial feelings. God is serious when he tells us not to be led by our feelings. Way to go! I loooooove what you said about how you realized that you were defending your Americanism over your Christianity. Ouch. And, of course I totally understand why. YOUR babies actually say goodbye to their Daddy as he has faithfully served our country, put America above his own life, and risked everything for our freedom! I am thankful for Jeff and for the many like him who serve for our freedom. But, I am also proud of YOU for your heart to serve THE ONE who gave America, and all the earth it’s life’s breath. I appreciate your willingness to admit what you (and btw, ME TOO!) have justified about waiting until “it is the right time for me” to serve the needy. It’s appalling, but true, isn’t it? I was so ashamed of myself. THANK YOU for sharing about how God is talking to you specifically about food and feeding His lambs. He will use it, I know He will!! I am giddy because you will LOVE a specific chapter in the next book (titled 7) when she fasts for a month and then when she uses her property to emplot homeless people and raise a garden so they have a job, she (and they!0 have fresh produce as God intended. You will LOVE it! And yes sweet cousin, we are related. The fact that anyone gets a word in edge-wise at Christmas in a darn near miracle. 🙂 LOVE YOU RAY RAY! 🙂 So thrilled to be on this journey with you!
Carrie ~ this is really causing me to question and think about things on a new level. It’s true I defend my country with a kind of fervor that might be considered prideful, so I’m looking at that and seeing what God has to say about it. Especially since it is an election year, and I tend to get very, um, shall we say, passionate about politics. 🙂
Haha ~ seriously, I could probably write 50 paragraphs about this first chapter! Maybe it’s a good thing we have missed so many family get togethers…..too many Woody’s in one room may be a little chaotic! 😉
Having been to Africa I understand the needs
of the world but I never considered myself as
being I the top 1% of the wealthy in the world.
God did put on my heart that I need to do
something, waiting to listen and know what
that will be.
Ok – I struggled with exactly what to say here because I loved some of what she said but was very cautious about some of what she said as well. But you did want DISCUSSION, right? You know my heart and I know yours, and we’re all good with each other, so here we go. You know I could write 10 pages but I’ll try to keep it short and simple. Since I agreed with a lot of both yours and hers, I’ll only write what I was really cautious about:
1.) I disagree wholeheartedly with her statement that God is obsessed with social justice – a scary set of words I’ll get to later. No, He’s not – what He’s obsessed with is Salvation. And Praise Him for that… And liberty too but that’s wrapped into Salvation, so… From the beginning of time, all the way back in Genesis (see 2:16, 3:15), God was making a plan for both. Our God wants us to freely seek Him, freely choose Him, freely accept Him and His precious gift of reconciliation that can come no other way, and then freely chase Him by reflecting Him – the same Spirit now residing in every believer – to the world.
God is not obsessed with works at all – He is gracious and kind and wonderful for allowing us to work out our faith through works – but He is far from obsessed with it. Our ability to even do works is a gift and not a requirement. A GIFT! I could talk for hours about how awesome that is, but another discussion all together. But what makes me cautious is that she seems to sweetly condemn and look a little scantily upon those who don’t share her passion; and that is dangerous territory.
2.) Jesus was no one trick pony and neither are the body of believers… The FRUITS of the Spirit are plenty and ours to display at the pleasure of His work in us. But these are not gifts – gifts are a separate issue. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are many but varied and no a one of us gets them all. Giving – and mercy, compassion, charity are just some of them. Again, she comes off as sweetly condemning those who just don’t “get it” when in fact not all of us are supposed to “get it”. (Corinthians, Galatians)
3.) Social Justice – oh, how I wish she had used a different word. That word to an undiscerning or new believer lies at the tippy top of a slippery slope leading to communion with those who might push us into moral relativism. Where the rights and a passion for the oppressed lead us to unwittingly allow entrée to a greater oppression from Satan himself. The agenda of progressivism is dangerous – one that leads to an acceptance of moral sluggishness in the name of acceptance and “compassion”. This not only possibly keeps others from Salvation but keeps believers away from the peace and protection of righteousness and the rest of the Spirit. (Hebrews, Ephesians)
4.) God DOES speak in metaphors even when He is speaking directly to a point. It’s the wonder of the Spirit guiding us to the truth of the Word. The “poor” He commands us to care for compromise a much larger swath of society – and you don’t need to look halfway around the world to find them. A woman in despair over rape, a mother who has lost her child to senseless violence, a man desperately sitting on top of a bridge struggling for the “courage” to just end it all, a defenseless baby being torn apart in what should be the safest place on earth, a victim of natural disaster etc… Or even just the plain ole sick and dying. The uneducated. The hopeless. All of these represent the very same poor Jesus is talking about every bit as much as the victims of abject poverty she speaks of and they ALL deserve our help equally. Yes – equally. Praise God He calls us all separately. And that’s how it gets done.
Look at Christ’s own words in Matthew 5 – the first words He spoke. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Not the poor – the poor in Spirit. I’m not a teacher, so I won’t teach but you got to realize here He is talking about every one of us – those who recognize the moral depravity apart from Salvation – and those who are in despair over their separation from God – not the literal poor.
Personally and I think you can make theological argument for it, it was these poor James and Peter were including in their request of Paul every bit as much as the literal poor.
Look at Matthew 26:11 and John 12:8 – we will always have the poor among us. I think He is literal here. I think He means we will always have the poor among us whether we are walking the means streets of Keller, TX or missioning in the slums of Nairobi, we won’t have to look far for those who are in need. I think we run into dangerous territory when we start ranking the needy…
5.) Global economies of scale and economic drivers… I think she missed the point big time here and it speaks way too much to our own current political climate that I don’t want to dig too deep here lest the point get lost. I am not going to feel guilty having my $4 cup of coffee because it is that very coffee that in its own way provides the ability for the redistribution of wealth *in liberty*. Remember liberty is a concept God is pretty big on. On the global scale, that cup of coffee (especially fair trade) provides a job for thousands all the way down to Sally Sue, the barista who never lets a tithe go by… To look at it her way is small thinking and I would dare say a thought process that would bankrupt the churches from being able to be in the business of charity to begin with.
I am sensitive on this issue I’ll admit. Largely in part because my husband provides for our family by participating in a system that glorifies excess. Yes, it is somewhat irritating when he flies someone 30 minutes and burns thousands upon thousands of dollars in fossil fuels (that may or may not be killing us either naturally or thru global turmoil) all so they can avoid a 3 hour road trip or get authentic tacos for lunch. But my husband’s job provides a way for me to be a mother to our children, serve at church, give at church, give to our community, serve in our community etc… Without the blessing of his job, we couldn’t do these things. It is a somewhat limited view into the wonders of God to think He needs our help in figuring this out. That somehow, we’re the only ones who can comprehend what the Creator created… And God does bless. It is what we do with those blessings that matter.
My brother has been a missionary in Nairobi for close to 20 years now. Two of my sisters in law come from third world countries so poor it’s crazy. Another sister in law comes from an Appalachian background. I have a brother in law who literally grew up with a dirt floor and a tarp roof in Missouri. But here’s the deal – the world is a bigger place than we can ever comprehend. I have an intimate relationship with those who understand poverty – who lived poverty. Without the gifts of liberty and Salvation first, poverty cannot be overcome. And that is universal. Whether on the corner or around the world, that is primary.
So, all that said and despite what it may seem, I did enjoy the book and look forward to reading next week’s portion. And yes – I did read the last chapter of the section before I wrote this – it gives me hope she might tackle some of these dilemmas as we go further. Love you!
Oh sweet Katherine – thank you for sharing! I know your heart, admire your heart, have been blessed and served repeatedly by your heart, and appreciate it too! I will try to reply to the your well thought out points.
1. I agree that God is obsessed with salvation. That is clear by the means as to which He was willing to spend His Son’s life to pay for it for us all. I believe you will find Jen Hatmaker to be like me in the regard that maybe her word choice isn’t always perfect, but if you know her heart (which I feel you will learn more and more about as you read books) you can let go of poor word choice. I honestly feel what she meant by this is simply what Beth Moore said regarding our buddy James we studied last semester, “James won’t let you grace yourself out of obedience”. Along the lines of what he said in 2:14-16 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? ” When millions of people are dying and we are sitting back and saying “God, bless them” yet doing nothing for them personally, it doesn’t lend their ears to hearing this good news we speak so happily about from our air-conditioned homes.
2. Fruit (singular) of the Spirit (love, joy, peace etc.) should be displayed by the life transformed by the Holy Spirit. Period. Not all fruit at all time. But, evidence should be there on a regular basis. And yes, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are different for each person. We are each promised that we have one. We are not all necessarily using them for his glory, that’s for sure. I liken this to the fact that I can’t handle trauma, blood, emergency situations. God did not wire me for doctor/nurse role. At all. Just like He maybe didn’t give gift to someone of mercy or leadership, or admonishment. But, His power can be displayed in a PHYSICAL way by serving the needy. When my kid gets nailed in the head and is bleeding all over the stinkin’ place, I do not back off claiming not to be wired for that. I love him. I care for him deeply. So, I get out of my comfort zone, I get clearly outside of my gifting, and T take care of him, I show all types of compassion and mercy etc. to him in that moment of his great need. And while I am obviously not comparing the Holy Spirit’s gifts to my being squeamish or disorganized or whatever, (gifts are not same as personality quirks) but i make that point to simply say that I think WAY TOO many Christian Americans are copping out, saying they don’t have ‘that’ gift.
3. i am not sure when social justice became a bad word. I have no idea the full implications it has politically, socially, with ‘good people’ doing ‘good things’ for other reasons besides Jesus. But, i do think it is a crime that Christians have backed away from mercy, compassion, etc because it may lean a bit toward the left. Our ridiculous tendency to see an issue as ‘their’ issue or ‘our’ issue has nothing to do with Jesus and the people around the world (and twenty minutes from my home) that are being ignored day in and day out. The sooner a new believer learns that, the better.
4. Boy did i get hooked on this one. I spent forever researching poor vs. needy and when it means someone who ‘only earns enough each day for their daily bread’ and those whose ‘only food comes out of begging for it from others’. whew! Here’s the point – I believe that Christians would much rather serve the poor in spirit than the poor in everything else. it’s easier. it’s cleaner. It’s safer. And we still feel good about ourselves because we’ve served! yeah us! The rape victim distraught over her past is dear to the heart of Jesus and should be dear to the heart of every church and every believer. And I do not rank her less VALUABLE in need than the person who has no food or water. BUT…just like when my kids are hurt, if one has stitches and needs care before they bleed out, and the other is not bleeding as bad, but more traumatized by the fall…I don’t ignore the one less bleeding, but I gotta take care of the stitches, WHILE i minister to them both. So, yes, the metaphors God uses are great and often mysterious. I agree, it could be poor, it could be poor in spirit. But, I think if we err on the side of literally feeding people who have literally nothing, and we are wrong, when we face Jesus, He will let that misinterpretation of ours go. And i just think too many of our churches have focused more on the traumatized and less on the one who just died from bleeding out.
5. We will have to agree to disagree on this one. Yes, I can speak from PERSONAL experience that YOUR FAMILY and your husband’s job and all of that has blessed even us, MY FAMILY, so many more times that I know you’d want me to tell people. So, i do not say this to condemn you, your husband, or your family…but in general, in America…we feel we deserve the life we lead. We worked hard and so we deserve it. So, we don’t feel compelled to spend the $4 a day for our coffee treat to instead feed a family of five somewhere else in the country or world. I do not think we all should sell our every belonging and give it all to the third world countries around the world. But, the more and more EXCESS i see around me every day (and yes, we have such a skewed view living in our particular area!) the more my heart breaks for those around the city, state, country, world who have nothing. Literally. So, knowing it could all be solved if even just those claiming to be Christians did WITHOUT, JUST A LITTLE BIT MORE for ourselves and instead LOVINGLY and not judgmentally gave it away…there may not be NO poor, but WOW there’d be millions less. And just to play devil’s advocate…(and this is an extreme example here, i know!) but if that same TYPE of mindset went further down that slippery slope, then anyone could justify doing anything for a living (moral or not) as long as they did good for God with their money. I think it is a SIN that we pay so much to so many people who do so little with the so much they have.
Thank you for the discussion. if this causes our hearts and brains GOD gave us to think on Him more, serve Him better and do MORE for His Great Name…then I am thrilled! LOVE YOU FRIEND!!!
This is a really great discussion, and we are only on the first chapter! I took a few days to really think about what you have both written here, as there are some great points made.
First, Katharine I can tell just by what you have written that you are led by the spirit of Christ. There was so much thought and sense in what you wrote that it made me question a lot of what I had written and thought myself. Especially the part about ranking the needy. I think you hit it on the head here. For the author, her calling is literal, feed the poor. I don’t think this is the same, or will be the same for every Christian. Should we volunteer at a homeless shelter in our free time? Sure! If we see a homeless person on the corner, should we buy him some groceries or clothes? Yes, by all means this is what God wants from His people. But….we are not all called to focus singularly on this ministry alone. We cannot be all things to all people, this is just impossible. And if every Christian focused all of their efforts and resources on feeding the poor, then what about that rape victim who is struggling every single day just to get the courage to leave her home and function? What about our military men and women who are killing themselves at record pace because they don’t have the ability to cope with the tragedies they have been witness to or part of? What about the children at the orphanage who have no guidance towards salvation? What about the father who is addicted to gambling and can’t see a way out of the enormous debt he has created for his family? What about the single mom who is suffering with postpartum depression and contemplates ending it for herself and her children out of sheer desperation and lack of hope? These people are suffering just as much if not MORE than people who are poor and hungry. These people need Jesus and the hope that only He can bring. These people need deliverance. In my opinion, meeting the physical needs of someone is actually much easier and less messy than meeting someones emotional and mental needs (and this may just be me here). I can very easily serve someone food, or buy someone a meal and meet their physical need for nourishment. That person will gladly accept my generosity and maybe even thank me for my kindness. However, try helping a person with a spirit of addiction attached to them and see how grateful and thankful they are to you initially. They won’t be. They will fight you, they will be mean and ugly and hateful. This is because they are literally fighting with the devil. It is a long hard fight, and it will exhaust you. You don’t get to drop off a meal and then leave and go about your day, you are constantly having to be a support for them. These people who are poor in spirit are in jeopardy of spending eternity in hell. Isn’t saving their souls from eternal damnation just as urgent a cause as feeding those who are poor? Just because we can’t physically see their need, does that mean they are not as needy? Now granted, many poor and homeless are addicts or people with mental disorders, but what if someone had been there to help them and minister to them before it got to the point of homelessness? I think we know Jesus wants them all to be saved, both physically from hunger and spiritually from torment. The question here is simply what does He want YOU to do to serve His people?
Carrie, I totally agree that we do live in excess here. We are a blessed nation, but some of us (myself included) have not been blessing others like we should. I have never been wasteful with money (you know how frugal my mom is!), but I have not really been using it in a way that would necessarily be pleasing to God either. So because I know my God wants me to use my financial resources to bless others, I will do it gladly. But to do it out of guilt or force (redistribution of wealth by the government) I think would only create bitterness and resentment in your heart. Which is why I think it must be done with gladness and of our own free will. “Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
I hope that we will all read this book and be able to open our hearts to what God is calling us to do for Him and His glory, not to follow what we think we should be doing out of guilt.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42
“Now while Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of expensive perfumed oil, and she poured it on his head as he was at the table. When the disciples saw this, they became indignant and said, “Why this waste? It could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor!” When Jesus learned of this, he said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a good service for me. For you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me! Matthew 26:6-11
Let’s not get too focused or distracted by our works that we lose focus of our God. If our focus is on Him, then our hearts will be moved to do good things in His name.
I am so grateful for this discussion, truly. It has made me study and contemplate and question and pray ~ all which are good things! I am a lifelong Christian (since childhood), but sadly I have not studied the Bible much at all. So I am learning through this process.
On another note, I can’t wait to read more about the garden you mentioned Carrie! It sounds like something that would be right up my ally! 🙂
Reagan – I once again appreciate your comments. And, love you dearly. What a blessing we, as family, get to have by taking this journey together! If God is screwing up our lives for His glory, at least we will have each other! 🙂 Anyway…I really want to stress, once again, that I do not agree or disagree with what you and Katherine have said about who is ‘needy’ and who ‘deserves’ help more than someone else. Whether the ‘poor’ is literal or figurative. Whether the trauma is internal or external. I think we are missing the point if we focus on that. Please hear me – I do not think should be an EITHER/OR discussion. I think what I’m trying to say here is that this should be a BOTH/AND discussion. Let us help BOTH the rape victim in her brokenness and minister for years, but, let us also help the black homeless man who has done hard time and has no teeth. Let us faithfully serve the wealthy man addicted to cocaine AND the refugee living in a shelter, desperate to make his way here and forget his past. Yes, we are all broken. Yes, we are all ‘poor’ in some sense of the word. But, so were the Pharisees. They were caught in generational pride and self-righteousness rivaled by few. But, Jesus didn’t focus on them. He taught them. He witnessed to them. But, He was much more desperate for those in literal despair. Whether they were widowed, homeless, lepers, prostitutes, or outcasts. This is primarily where He stayed. The least of these is the exact group that I feel most Christians would prefer to keep at arms length.
Please remember that I began this entire post with the quote from Brandon Hatmaker (Jen’s husband) that talked about their hope for each of the readers to hear clearly what God would want THEM to do and to BREAK AWAY from their own selves, their own mental prejudices, and be FREE to serve as Jesus is calling THEM to serve. No guilt tactics here. I, too, differ from some of what Hat says, but her words have caused me to ask myself what I truly believe to be true in the Word, and more importantly, WHAT IN THE WORLD I am doing to LIVE THAT OUT in my life. I love you cous! Can’t wait to talk about next week! 🙂
I think the most important thing to remember about this book is that it is a story of this one family’s journey. Yes, it is an exhortation to those of us who pick it up to do more and certainly, the facts and statistics and realities will hit you in the gut. However, it is important to remember that Jen Hatmaker is not YOUR Holy Spirit, she is just expressing what the Holy Spirit has said to her.
I say this because after reading through these comments I found myself saying YES!!!! to all of them – the positive and the negative. I’ve actually read a couple chapters further than one because when I began the book I found it to be like the train wreck that is so horrifying to us and yet we cannot look away. And I couldn’t sleep because I totally felt that I, too, in a lifetime of calling myself a Christian had missed the point, but I also knew that God wasn’t calling me to chuck it all and do what the Hatmakers have done. I just kept chanting to myself and/or God ‘What does this mean? What am I supposed to do with this? What could this possibly look like?’
I believe I attend a church that speaks Truth. I believe that the money I give there goes to good things in good places both in America and around the world. I also believe that when God told us to give Him our first fruits he did not just mean to calculate an exact tenth of our income (and endlessly debate with ourselves whether that means before or after taxes), but to give of our time and our talents and our love. I tend to think that just giving the obligatory in the collection plate is a cop out so I like to sprinkle it around. But, I am soooooo guilty of telling myself ‘when we make more we’ll give more’ and the more never seems to be enough more.
I was once a single mom that barely made ends meet. My husband and I had a baby during his third layoff in 15 months which led to months and years of not knowing how we could pay an electric bill. So building security for me is like drinking water. I HAVE to do it. Now I know that I have been telling myself one lie after another about what that security should look like and what it’s going to do for us. I am fooling myself about how broke I think we are because I have to wait until payday rolls around to buy new bedding for two bedrooms. I am so disgusted with myself.
I think this book is great because no matter what God may use it for in each of our lives, you can’t help but be convicted that He wants to do SOMETHING with it in each of us.
I am also very, very angry at both you and Thing One for EVER mentioning it. I might have used a curse word or two about you both this weekend while I told my friends they probably DON’T want to read it because then they would hate me too. Hate in a Love kind of way, of course.
I still love you, Heather. 🙂
You’re absolutely right – it is about what *I* am doing (or not doing, which is much more painful). It will look different for every one of us. But we each have to do SOMETHING.
I’m working on my post for this chapter. I think I’m going to lose some friends.