Tue 03 Jun
City Light: Tuesday, June 3
Mine vs. Yours vs. Ours:
When We Mistake Kingdom Provisions as Personal Blessings
I have always struggled coming to terms with the undeserved upper hand I have been given in life. I am a male, I am white, and I live in one of the most affluent countries in the world. For the most part, I will not deal with the struggles of racism, gender discrimination, and living in a poverty stricken country that the international community has casually labelled as “developing”. The circumstances that have caused me to be created in this way were beyond my control or influence. Add to this the countless other “blessings” (healthcare, a loving family, resources, education, the opportunity to freely and openly pursue my faith), and I’m left questioning why this life circumstance is mine and not that of a plethora of wonderful people who are infinitely more deserving than I am?
Even my prayers feel as if they carry a sense of entitlement. While my idea of crying out to the creator is, “God, show me how I can be like Jesus to help the poor, the orphans, the widows—the least of these— and seek a life of simplicity that goes against the consumption obsessed culture I live in”, I realize the prayers of many of my brothers and sisters in Christ are more parallel to, “God, give us food and water so we may live”. Why do I receive blessings while others suffer? How am I supposed to make sense of what I have in abundance while others lack?
In trying to come to terms with what it means to live simply, give generously, and make sense of the resources that have been made available to me, I read Chris Heuertz’s (2008) Simple Spirituality. One passage stuck out and has become something I often return to:
“When we don’t submit our lives to God and our possessions to people in need, when we mistake our financial and material blessings as personal provisions rather than as resources with potential for kingdom development— have we perpetuated an unjust imbalance between us and our neighbours [everyone else]? Could it be that our deformed perceptions of power, our selfish tendencies to accumulate and hoard, cause many of the world’s poor to go without their basic needs? It seems to me that we are thieves when we hold onto those things that don’t actually belong to us.”
Anything and everything that l have, every blessing, every resource, that which l received, that which l feel l have “worked for” or “earned”, these things are not my personal provisions. l only mar the wonder of what a blessing is when l limit it as something personal, rather than reveal its true potential as a resource for the kingdom. These blessings are not mine, they are intended for the kingdom. l still cannot come to terms as to why l have been entrusted with so much, but l will also not waste anymore time hoarding for my own benefit, what was intended for the kingdom and those in need.
“Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NlV)
David has been a part of The Meeting House Oakville site for four years. He volunteers on the music team and is a part of the Glenashton (Epworth) Young Adult Home Church. He is currently a full time graduate student at McMaster University in Hamilton.