Thursday, December 11, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This video was on my friend Ricky Beamer's blog, and so I thought I would put it on mine too. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that my eyes are being opened constantly to the great needs in our world, and the fact that we in the west have tons of resources to do something about those needs. But it all starts with change. And I invite you to think about that word change in all of the senses it is used.

It starts with change--what do you do with your coins? Your loaves and fishes? Would you be willing to change how you spent your cash? And how you celebrated the holiday season? Is it really your cash anyway?

Every year, we all run out to shop and among Christians we put taglines in our greeting cards and even on clothing that encourages others to "remember the reason for the season." It's a great tagline, but I wonder how much we think about the fact that the Creator of the universe, the one who gave you that last breath you took, came to earth in the form of a baby. LOVE entered the world, and dwelt with us. And our response is to spend a bunch of money on junk.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Gifts aren't a bad thing either. I feel a strong temptation every CHristmas to go overboard with my gift giving. I want to be lavish and extravagant with my family and friends. And I think that's a great thing. But maybe more could be communicated if I spend less on gifts (definitely getting gifts for folks!) and more on time. Time is a precious commodity. I want to be fully present with people when we are together, and I have a hard time at that sometimes, I think we all have a hard time with that. But THAT is a far better gift than toys and such. Time communicates love better than any other gift. Where are you spending your time?

Lastly, as a thought that emerged from the video, how could you take a little bit of that money you save on gifts to help someone in need? A better question than how is WILL you take a little bit of that money you would spend lavishing on people you love, and lavish some of it on people who are forgotten? Or maybe even giving some of those gifts to groups who are laboring for change in the world.

I want to suggest a few places where you could give for a greater impact.

1) Your church. One third of Christians say they tithe, 8% actually do. Imagine a company running on 8% of it's budget, and what it would be able to do. If you don't tithe, you should start. If you do tithe, consider giving a little more to your church this Christmas so they can redistribute those funds to further the influence of the gospel. Unless you don't think your church is doing that, and then you probably should talk to your church about it or find a new church . . .

2) Nuru International. Of course I'm going to plug this organization. It was started by my friends. It is doing great work at meeting desperate needs among some of the poorest people in the world. You could actually be part of helping a community of 5000 people have access to clean drinking water through Nuru. Water for Christmas? That sounds absurd--I agree, but over 1 billion people would enjoy water more than you will ever enjoy that new ipod.

3) International Justice Mission. I've blogged about this organization before as well, have you heard of them? They help rescue some of the 27 million slaves in our world today. Most of these folks are children. You could make a gift that will help these kids have an advocate, and to gain their freedom. Think about it. Freedom for a Christmas present.

4) Another great organization. There are tons out there. Look around. Pray. See where God leads you to give, and then do it.

This christmas let's all try to change our spending habits. Spend your time this Christmas. Bake some cookies with your sister. Go for a walk with your dad. Make a difference in the world with the abundant resources you have been given.

Take some time today to slow down and consider how you can freshly communicate your love to family and friends, and your love to those who you may never meet.

Love generously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HI Billy!
I love this post and the video is incredible!
I really connect with the way you describe the tug-of-war within -- enjoying and desiring to bless your friends and family with gifts but then knowing that the best gift is being emotionally, spiritually, lovingly present but then realizing how difficult it can be to actually do that.
I like the solution you recommend. Spend at least a little less and give away at least a little more. Hopefully in small steps we can have more of the way we spend our time and money reflect the heart of God. That would be beautiful, huh?
Keep at it, my friend!