I heard a story not too long ago that one of the richest men in the world was giving away 99% of his money, but that it would not impact his lifestyle or that of his descendants in the least. I remember thinking, then so what? Now, I realize that his money that he is giving away will go to help lots of people, but if there is no cost or loss to him personally, then what difference does it really make? If there is no discomfort, there is often no growth. That is why Jesus died such a painful death. It cost Him. It cost the Father to allow that for His son. In His words, he could have given the word and had ten thousand angels come free him from the cross, but he paid for our freedom with His sacrifice.
This summer, when the temperature hovered around the 85 degree mark, I did not have the air conditioner on. I wanted to know what it felt like to be uncomfortable. We have so many luxuries and privileges at our disposal that I don’t think I understand what it feels like to suffer. I wanted to stand with those who don’t have a choice, who don’t live in a comfy house with the modern perk of central air, and feel what they feel. I realize that is a small and trivial thing to say, but it struck me that we don’t know how to be uncomfortable for very long. We scream for situations to be fixed, for equality, for fairness all the time. What that really means is I deserve what he has. I deserve to have what I want.
We give to several charitable organizations, but it doesn’t really cost me. We have our cable with 300 channels. We have our Y membership. We have a full freezer and pantry. We are not people of luxury, by many standards, but we are comfortable. But not so comfortable that when a big bill came in unexpectedly, the resulting financial tantrum put the charities on the chopping block. I offered up alternatives…cut the cable, live with less…and was met with indignation. I found myself waffling to offer up the Y membership in trade, and was sickened by my own indecision.
We did come to an agreement, but the feeling of shame is left. At what cost will I serve the least of these? When does the price become too high, and who am I to decide? Feeling like my heart is being broken in a new place. That’s a good thing.