Thursday, 5 July 2012

First World Problems

I've been challenged recently about how Christians in the West perceive their problems. When I told people I was going away in Easter, conversation often turned to travel arrangements. I soon realised that I was complaining that it would take me around 5 hours to get to Sheffield via coach. This is absurd, seeing as some people have to walk for hours just to find some clean water. A typical jerry can full of water weighs 40 lbs. Imagine carrying that on your back for an hour.

See more on Know Your Meme

Moaning about our first world problems is not Biblical. The book of Philippians gives us an example of what our attitude should be like:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
We definitely need to learn to be content when well fed and living in plenty. If we can't do that then how can we be content if we were to find ourselves hungry or in poverty? It also is crucially important we are content in plenty when there are people that are genuinely struggling. Not only is it unjust that we have plenty while others do not, but to complain in the face of it is selfish and cruel.

I'd just like to add that while someone may have material wealth, they may not have spiritual or emotional wealth, and therefore may be in true need as well. Mother Teresa once said, "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted." There may be someone next door to you that appears to have everything except the feeling of acceptance. They, too, are in poverty.

As Christians, I feel that, not only should we not moan when we do have everything, we should seek to meet the poverty in the lives of other people. Micah 6:8 says, "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Whether this is the sharing of our material wealth, or being hospitable and loving, it is a way of showing what God is about. God actually tells us to stop with our religious assemblies and the noise of our songs if we can't get this right:
I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!  (Amos 5:21-24)
So, next time you roll up at a religious assembly and sing your songs, perhaps ask yourself, "Am I doing my bit to let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream?"

Quick Questions
  • What first world problems have you heard? (My favourite one from this website is “I don’t have enough chips for my dip, but if I open another packet of chips, I won’t have enough dip for my chips.”)
  • Do you complain too much?
  • What seemingly trivial situations really get you riled?
  • What websites or resources do you know that could help us in being just, merciful and humble?

1 comment:

  1. I complain too much. It's so easy to get self centered and caught up with the stuff that's not important.

    I've been thinking a lot about this since you posted about the National Trust the other day. We'd actually just been to a NT house that day(!) and I can't shake off the feeling that we've got a little bit too comfy here in Cardiff. In Aber is was so easy to be on the 'front line'. We were on hand to see needs and I felt like we were living for God, but here it's harder. It's easy to just get caught up with 'normal life'.
    But just cos we were physically working for God does that make us any better than we are now? Is it our spiritual walks that count? As long as we're asking God daily how to live for him I guess we just have to make the most of the different seasons God gives us.

    Hmm...sorry for the random mind splurge!


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