Somewhere we decided that being a Christian and a typical citizen of the world is acceptable.
Like many of our follies, it probably started with Constantine. Christianity was grafted onto state and
empire. In other words, our faith became normalized in the wider culture, twisted to suit its needs. So
today we buy second cars and spacious homes, make prudent investments. We think nothing of it.
But we have been called to another kind of life. The Bible is wary of any kind of earthly plenty.
Christ tells the Rich Young Ruler to give away all his possessions. The Rich Man burns in hell while
Lazarus is comforted. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than get into heaven.
Don’t needle the metaphor. It’s nearly impossible for the comfortable to be saved. That’s what it means.
As Luke 24 promises, “for you have received your comfort.”
Perhaps most directly, Christ says in Luke 3:11, “’If you have two coats, give one away,’ he said.
‘Do the same with your food.’”
He couldn’t be more clear but it’s so easy to ignore. It’s easy to have a spare bedroom or an extra
car or a dozen pairs of shoes or send your children to private school when public would do or have a
savings account. I have some of these. Many of you do as well.
One of the most common questions that Christians ask is: How do I live? How do I apply these
ancient teachings to everyday life. What do I do? In acts Chapter two, the author writes, “All the
believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to
anyone who had need.” The answer is plain, yet for Western Christians, that’s simply not happened
since the early church. We hoard and we plan and we cache our goods in barns and banks. The truth is
there should be no spare thing among us. Anything extra is a blessing to be given away.
We blend in with the wider society but you and I are called to be radicals, to lead entire lives
relying on nothing more than grace, devoting everything we own to the poor to and to God.
Still we think of sin as a crummy choice that we occasionally make. Here’s the truth, our entire
lives are wrong. Any normative American life is evil. Our property, our plenty have become a millstone
around our necks. I’m afraid because my life looks nothing like the Christians that are held up in the
Bible as a plain example. I’m sorely afraid and you should be too.