Radical Generosity

I work at a great church, and I feel like we are trying to live out community in some great ways, and have some room to grow in others. One of our church goals is Radical Generosity, which I most definitely agree with, but it is one that is so hard to define, and practically live out. Our church, like many others in this part of Western Christianity spends a bulk of its finances on maintaining our building and keeping our staff paid. These are not bad things, but it leaves little wiggle room for “true” radical generosity.

I hope and pray to live out radical generosity, but this is one of my weaknesses. There are very few things, possessions that is, in my life, or the life of my family that I have a death grip on. But my problem is with acquiring. I feel like I am pretty generous in some regards, but if I am constantly acquiring more books, or other stuff, I am kind of killing my generosity. To replace what I have given kind of snuffs out the act of giving to begin with.

If we are people of faith, we are automatically called to give. But at the same time we are called to give responsibly, without ignorance of the affects of our giving. Sometimes our generosity can be a detriment to a family or community. For example, if I bring with me thousands of soccer balls to Uganda this summer and hand them out left and right, my generosity is most likely putting someone who sells soccer balls in Uganda out of business. My generosity has had a radical effect in ways that were certainly not intended.

As I think about the topic of generosity I can’t help but think that we are called, to give more than we receive; to empower others more than we consume ourselves; to help others live sustainable lives at the sake of our own comfort and wants. A lot of this discussion begins when we sit down in front of the mirror and take the time to truly distinguish our wants from our needs. Because when we continue to feed our wants at such an unhealthy rate, we are directly stealing from the true needs of others.

One of my favorite and most difficult quotes to swallow is from Mother Teresa and she said these very convicting words, “It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

Radical generosity means we look at the world differently, it means that we look at our finances differently, it means we look at our time differently, and ultimately it means that we look at life differently. I have a long ways to go, but I hope that some of you will join me in the pursuit of living radically generous lives so that while our needs can be met, our wants can be set aside for the needs of others!

May 3, 2011 <> Michael Warneke

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