I ate a delicious cheese-burger and fries for lunch today. Damn they was good.
But that lunch cost me 5 bucks. Five. Bucks.
If I had found some (less tasty) lunch for 4 bucks.. or 3 bucks... or made my own... I could have freed up more cold hard cash to help the poor.
After all, some of my neighbors are living on around 5 bucks a day or less. That was a day's wages I just wolfed down! That's a day's wages sitting in my belly, silently pointing a bony finger at me with a sad, hungry look in its eyes.
What am I? - some kind of monster??
Tonight, we shared food from our fridge with some of the kids who are poorly nourished in our slum community. They regularly get excited over a single cucumber, an egg or a raw carrot - making my cheese-burger indulgence look positively gluttonous.
My neighbour struggles to meet the basic needs of her family, while I have dollars in my wallet and money in the bank. Inequality greets me with a weary smile as I walk out the door.
Maybe you've grappled with the same discomfort over inequality. Maybe you've been troubled by your own affluence and relative comfort. If you haven't, go and open up another tab on your browser, and book yourself a plane ticket to the nearest developing country. Don't stay in a nice hotel.
See, when your eyes are opened to the reality that most of the world is struggling to get by, your lifestyle choices are bound to come under scrutiny. And that's a GOOD thing.
I thank God that I am forced to face that tension. Every new awakening starts with struggle and tension, just as an earthquake must start with tectonic plates grinding against one another.
See, you and I are living in a world that is not just. It is un-just. A lot of the time you can ignore it, numb it out, act like it's not there, or occupy your brain with another Netflix binge. But injustice and inequality IS a reality. So, for starters I'm glad that at least I'm awake to that tension, because the alternative is to be unaware, blind, asleep.
Are you asleep?
We all need to see enough of poverty to have a little niggling voice in the back of our heads almost all the time asking, "Do you really need that?" or "Step away from the shiny gadget Craig. Step. Away."
It means you're AWAKE. You're not living in a dreamworld where every child is perfectly safe and happy, and well-fed.
Being awake is the first step in an important journey. So do whatever it takes to wake up. Open your eyes. Or more correctly - put yourself in a position where you are allowing God to open them on a regular basis. For what the eyes have not seen the heart cannot grieve over. Allow your eyes to see and your heart to grieve. Allow yourself to struggle.
Then you'll be able to say - "Level One: Embrace the tension - UNLOCKED!"
Only, then can you begin to rethink how you live your life. But that's Part 2...
In the meantime, immerse yourself in this song from my friend Tom Wuest, a desperate cry to God, to take the scales from our eyes and heal our blindness.
[This is the first of two-part series grappling with the use of money. In Part 2 I'll look at whether that cheese-burger was a just purchase, along with a way to organize your spending into 5 areas that make sense in a world where children starve.]