This post will probably not be fun. I wanted to warn you so that you could stop reading if you wanted. It’s OK; I’ll understand.
I also feel compelled to post about the tone of voice this is written in. I’m not angry at anyone or any congregation in particular. I’m just using space, my space, to vent and to ask some questions that bother me a lot. This is not an attack on anyone. I promise. Also, I have questions other than stuff about money, but I figure one downer blog a week is enough for anyone.
The closer Stephen and I get to marriage, the more we talk about finances and our budget. And the more I think about how Christians are supposed to look. And then the more I am convinced that our Christian opulence in the United States is completely and totally inappropriate. And then I feel like a judgmental bitch. And then I realize that I’m allowed to judge other people who have signed up to play by the same set of rules as I have. Not in condemnation, because I can’t do that (condemn, I mean), but I can help turn someone from the error of their ways*.
That being said, I really can’t change anyone but me. I’ve got some influence over Stephen, but ultimately, I can only fix myself. And because I can only fix myself, I think a lot about money, because it’s an area where I struggle. I’m not always generous. I’m often selfish.
I posted as my Facebook status yesterday that, “I am totally OK with having less so that other people can have enough.” While that’s sort of true, I fail to practice that sentiment very often. I think the church as a whole fails to practice that sentiment. This is where some people are going to get mad at me. It’ll be OK though, because I’ve had a crap ton of people mad at me before and I’ll have a crap ton mad at me again. I’m not so sure our church parking lots should be filled with luxury vehicles. I’m not so sure that our homes should be large and ostentatious. I’m not so sure that we should have the nicest of everything, that our vacations should be opulent and lavish. I’m finding it more distasteful to hear about how we’re under budget in our congregations but our parking lots are filled with late-model luxury. It seems like if we all (me included, cause that’s what the word “we” does) spent less per month, then things might not be so scary in the third quarter of the fiscal year. I’m not sure that having the best is right. I’m just not sure that’s what I get from reading the Word.
And I know. I know that there are many would say that I’m just jealous of others’ wealth. And you know, that’s part of it. Despite not being proud of it, I can admit that. I know that money brings some security that it’s hard to find anywhere else, and it also brings some fun that’s hard to find anywhere else. But, that’s not really it. I keep being convicted about the way we spend our money. We rant and rail about how “those lazy people on welfare,” failing to realize that there are likely destitute people in our Sunday school class where we’re ranting and railing. And I think, that we would be generous to our Christian brothers and sisters who were in need, but I can tell you from experience that it’s freaking hard to admit that you’re essentially poverty stricken or can’t figure out how to pay your deductible, or buy groceries or pay rent, when there’s a crowd of people at your church crowing about how people should just get jobs already and pay their bills. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
All that being said, I don’t know where the line is. I don’t want to be a woman of legalism either, so I’m not so sure it’s important that I’ve drawn a line, or that anyone has drawn a line. Basically, I have a lot more questions than I do answers. I don’t know exactly how to spend my money. I know that all the things that Jesus said about money make me a little uncomfortable, because they keep my life from being easy. I tend to prefer easy. Basically, I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t look radically different from anyone else in the world, and I know that I’m the only person that can fix that. Except, I don’t know how. And I don’t know how to do it without sounding judgmental or mean. But really, more than anything, I don’t know how to live here, where I have to live, and make sure that I’m really living for the kingdom. I just don’t know.
*Not that I am not ALSO in error here. I promise. I mess up with my generosity all the time. I just needed to explain why I’m allowed to say things to other people. But seriously. This post isn’t so much about me turning someone else from the error of their ways. It’s about some questions that I have and some things that I think the church as a whole (which includes me) is doing wrong.