King's Business - 1966-03

“More than half the world’s population live in perpetual hunger . The impact is slight as far as most Christians are concerned . 9

are concerned. It can’t be seen in the scenic gran­ deur of our vacation trips, or in the plush living rooms of our homes. Nor is it discernible in Amer­ ica’s brightly-lit super-markets. One must look ever so closely when the passing missionary flashes his slide pictures of the distress he has witnessed. But there it is, back o f the moneyed facade through which few of us ever penetrate — catas­ trophic disease, grinding poverty, unspeakable need, economic systems devised to let few, if any, crumbs tumble from the tables around which sit we privileged few. It’s there, all right, but we must find the courage to look. It is high time for an aroused and indignant Christendom to stand up and protest, to begin preaching against materialism, to begin writing and exerting every influence to halt and destroy this demoralizing monster. The strange, almost eerie silence that blankets our churches when it comes to the perils of riches must be replaced by a strident voice, a voice of judgment'similar to the one heard in the Bible. As materialism gathers in its victims, however, there are people who have resisted the trend. Some years ago I chatted with an elderly couple who de­ cided against a lovely new ranch-style home when a building need arose in their church. They made-do with a forty-year-old frame house in which they had lived for forty years. “Giving up our dream of a new home is the least we can do,” said this godly man, “ considering all that the Lord has given us.” Charles Wesley, the early Methodist leader, pledged in young manhood to make his way on a yearly income of less than one hundred pounds. Until his death he managed on this modest stipend though opportunities for fortune came his way.

“ I have two silver spoons in London and two at Bristol,” he wrote in a letter to the Commissioner of Excise on Friday, Sept. 9, 1776. “ This is all the plate I have at present and I shall not buy any more while so many around me want bread.” The late Albert Schweitzer habitually traveled fourth class on the railroad. Someone asked why he always insisted on the discomfort of such accom­ modations. “Because,” he quipped, “ there is no fifth class.” An informed, aroused and indignant Christen­ dom can bring the monster of materialism to a halt. Ministers can begin preaching against it, and dem­ onstrating by example that they mean what they say. Writers, teachers, parents and all who exert influence can call our people to pause, to take stock, to submerge the dollar to its proper and legitimate place. All we have to do is begin to follow what the New Testament says: that when I have something my brother lacks I should, without hesitation, go and share with him. We must share generously, openheartedly, to the point of personal inconveni­ ence and discomfort. We must, to use a word that has fallen from favor, share in a spirit o f sacrifice. Poverty is a grim, untidy picture. In Asia it is tar-paper shacks and second-hand shoes, brown beans and pushcarts, education that ends at the third grade and backyard plumbing. In Africa it is no meat on the table three days a week, fourteen people crammed into a four-room slum. In India it is famished urchins stumbling down rutted streets of gummy mud and black cinders. In Sierra Leone, the little African kingdom, it is eight out of ten babies dying of protein malnutrition. The spiritual need is still greater in all lands. It takes money to send out and support missionaries! We repeat the question we began with: are we living too sumptuously, too lavishly? Are we too absorbed in the chase of the venerable dollar? Maybe if we stared that question in the face for a while. Maybe then . . .



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