An alternative

My friend, Jamie, tagged me with a meme he is starting. Reflecting on a quote from St. Francis he writes:

“The life of the Christian should be burning with such a light of holiness that by their very example and conduct, their life will be a rebuke to the wicked.” (St. Francis)
In an era where Christians are largely known for the sin they oppose, this wisdom could not be more timely. Francis calls us to face the compromises of our culture by becoming living alternatives with how we live.

In light of that, here is the question he is asking:

1. Consider aspects of our culture where we have too easily compromised, issues that you passionately oppose.

2. Then, ask yourself what it would mean for you, both as and individual and as a part of a community, to be a living alternative. Write about it.

3. Link back here to this post.

4. Tag others to participate.

I’m going with my first reaction to his question, and that is holding tightly to money and possessions: hoarding rather than holding loosely. While I could certainly write a long answer describing all the ways I have hoarded rather than given, I do have a few testimonies I can share. Alternatives to hoarding in my community have looked like this:

Not purchasing/owning a washer and drier and instead using a neighbor’s machine across the street.

Giving cars away (when our pastor joined our community, a couple gave them their second car and just this week, our friends gave their really nice Honda to my sister and her family).

Receiving inheritance money and giving a substantial portion of it away rather than stockpiling it.

Owning one pair of shoes that you wear every day.

Paying someone’s hospital bill outright rather than loaning the money.

Giving away thousands of dollars a year in rental assistance to a family struggling to get out of debt.

Buying a bunch of stuff at Costco for a friend repeatedly and refusing reimbursement because that friend’s finances are really tight.

Giving a large cash gift to help a growing family buy a van.

Offering to pay for some expensive self-defense classes for someone struggling with fear following a physical attack.

Sending monthly grocery gift cards to a single-mom with five children.

Choosing to give away the majority of your income to further the work of the church among the urban poor.

Buying Doug a new, really nice guitar when his strings were breaking weekly and it was held together with rope.

Living way beneath your means to free up money to give away.

Well, I could surely go on but that is a fine start. Thanks, Jamie. It was a blessing for me to rehearse these testimonies of generosity and sacrifice.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal…You cannot serve both God and money.”

Oops! I forgot the tagging part:

Jim

Eugene

Sonja

5 thoughts on “An alternative”

  1. erika,

    i don’t have the energy to do this but i do want to comment.

    these are wonderful, simple, inspiring, accessible, and they make a difference.

    we need to celebrate this kind of community.

    e

  2. Thanks for the tag, Jamie. It was fun to do. And no worries, Eugene. I rarely get to these myself :)

  3. This is great. I’ve still to do this meme. Trying to think of what my living alternative would be to the topic that gets me most riled!

    Loving what you and your family are doing Erica. This is so practical, and wish we’d all actually get authentic with our faith!

  4. Thanks, Laura Anne! Authenticity is always the challenge, and we can often miss out by overlooking the very practical, mundane, every-day in search of the “spiritual”!

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