Note: This is the second in a series of posts inspired by the Advent Conspiracy movement and the book, Advent Conspiracy, by Rick McKinley, Chris Seay and Greg Holder.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
— 2 Corinthians 8:13-15
When did we begin to equate peoples’ value to us with how much we spend on them?
More to the point, when did we begin to believe that our own worth is tied to how much people spend on us?
In this season of conspiracy, how can we begin to reshape that paradigm? How can we honor the worshipful tradition of gift-giving without turning our worship to consumerism and materialism?
According to Living Water International, Americans spend something on the order of $450 BILLION every year on Christmas. The average American will spend approximately $1,000 on Christmas gifts.
For people in the world who live on less than $2 a day, that’s almost 3 years worth of survival. Spent on one day in America. If we channeled just 3% of what we spend on Christmas into clean water projects, we could solve the world water crisis in a year.
What does that say about how we value other people?
Where in that equation are we living Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves?
I’m not talking about selling everything you have. I’m not even talking about cutting back on gift-giving.
This is about how we value each other. It’s about breaking the cycle that matches extravagance to love. It’s about making gift-giving a meaningful statement about relationships.
Spending less doesn’t mean not spending at all. It just means evaluating what we spend and how we spend it. It means looking beyond the pricetag to the true cost of what we purchase. It means understanding that our checkbooks bear only a portion of that true cost. What about the cost to the people who produce what we buy? What about the cost to our planet–to God’s own Creation–for the raw materials used, for the by-products that enter the environment?
Buying and giving gifts is a good thing. The challenge is balancing our desires with the needs of others. Understanding that it’s not the gift itself that brings happiness and fulfillment. It’s the love behind the gift. It’s the good that can be done in the world because of how we choose to give.