I've been blogging recently about Christians and wealth (beginning with Note from An Angry Blogger). In the comments section, Samantha today asked me if I were a Christian Socialist like Ron Sider. Since I haven't read any of Ron Sider's books, I'm not sure. But just by the title "Christian Socialist" I would guess that I am not. Economically, I am not particularly liberal. In general, I think that conservative fiscal policies do help the poor by creating a better economy. But I don't want to go into detail about that here. Instead, I want to clarify some things about what I do believe that might not have come out in previous posts.
One, Hell Does Not Veto Heaven. (Jollyblogger used that phrase in the past but I don't remember when.) That is to say, just because someone is suffering somewhere does not mean that I can not enjoy what God has given me where I am. Some people have mistakenly thought that I believe that. Let me say clearly, I don't. I believe in enjoying life to its fullest. I believe that enjoying the situation that I'm given, whether good or bad, is glorifying to God. It's also more fun than being miserable.
Two, Sacrifice is Not the Goal. In other words, I don't believe in giving up things just for the sake of giving up something. I don't take my money and burn it because I think it's evil. I don't see the point in denying myself something that is legitimate for me to have, if the exercise of my freedom doesn't hurt another person.
Three, Giving is a Joy. Here is where I think people have misunderstand me. I am very passionate about the need to give and the scandal of wallowing in our wealth while others suffer, but I don't see giving as a horrible burden to endure. Didn't someone say, "It is more blessed to give than to receive?" (wink, wink)
When I look at wealthy churches around the world (including some here in Korea) I can't help but think that they don't seem so happy or blessed. Sure, they have multi-million dollar buildings, nice cars in the parking lot. The church I attend now even has its own symphony and concert hall in a prime area of Seoul. And let's not forget the lattes and donuts! None of that is bad. But when I hear people defend their right to keep these things, I am puzzled because I can scarcely find a single person who appears even marginally happy in those churches. Including my own church. Sure, most people say they're happy and content, but I don't believe it.
I have met very few people in my life who seemed to be fully alive and really at peace with God and with their circumstances. Strangely, they were people who had suffered and given their all to God, not people who had been spared sorrow.
More posting to come. . .