Called to Sacrifice
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ means that we are followers of Him at all times. We cannot choose to be Christians only at certain times and places. We cannot turn Christianity on and off. When we become Christians we commit ourselves to Christ, and therefore we commit ourselves to a certain lifestyle. This decision impacts what we do with our money (Luke 18:18-25), how we spend our time (Luke 9:59-62), and it impacts our relationships (Matt. 12:46-50).
This all-encompassing lifestyle is not simply a call to abstain from certain things, as some have interpreted it. It is a call to think and act differently about the world we live in. It is a call to make better choices than we have made in the past. It is a call to be aware of others who we were not aware of before. It is a call to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
As Christians we need to wrestle with the issues of time, money, relationships, obligation to others, etc. I fear that we often justify our actions without giving these issues much thought. Instead of being satisfied with the $5 we give a homeless man, we need to wrestle with the reality of poverty. Instead of feeling good about the 3 or 4 hours we spend at church a week, we need to consider the time we spend in front of a television or a computer and ask ourselves if we could be using our time more wisely.
Peter Singer poses an interesting hypothetical situation for us to consider (I disagree with many of Singer’s utilitarian ideas, but I believe this scenario is extremely beneficial). He asks us to imagine that we are out walking one day when we come across a child who is drowning in a shallow pool of water. The water is shallow so there is no danger involved. What would you do in this situation? I think everyone would agree that the child should be saved. This is an easy decision. What if you were wearing expensive shoes and you knew that your shoes would be ruined if you helped the child? Again, I think nearly everyone who considers this scenario would agree that you would have to save the child, even if it meant ruining a pair of expensive shoes. These scenarios are easy. They are cut and dry, but now consider the last time you went to the mall and bought an expensive pair of shoes, a nice dress, a fancy shirt, etc. With the money you spent on that article of clothing you could have fed a starving child.
I understand that we all need clothing, but are we purchasing clothing because we need it or because we can. Are we purchasing a piece of clothing because it adequately clothes us, or are we spending much more money on the latest fashion. I don’t mean to pick on those of us who enjoy nice clothes. The same questions could be asked of money we spend on entertainment, transportation, housing, etc. It costs very little to change the life of a child who is in need. The question we need to ask ourselves as Christians is: “Are we willing to make small sacrifices in order to help someone who is in need?” In other words, are we willing to give up our latte in order to give a starving child a piece of bread? I have no doubt that all of us would help the drowning child in the shallow pool, but will we help the dying child, who may be in another country, from starving to death by making a sacrifice that is quite insignificant to us?
As Christians I believe we have no choice, but to help. We will not be able to help everyone in need and we will not be able to save every dying child, but we need to do what we can. We need to be a light in a dark world, and we need to lead others to Jesus Christ, so they may also have a positive impact on the world.
Singer, Peter. The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle. http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/199704–.htm