I wrote a series of posts on the book, but when I was done, it didn’t feel like enough. I just couldn’t get the statistics out of my head:
- More than 26,500 children died yesterday of preventable causes related to their poverty, and it will happen again today, and tomorrow and the day after that.
- Almost 10 million children will be dead in a year from preventable causes related to poverty.
- More than 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day.
For a long time I’ve had an internal vision of God and His work – I’ve been primarily concerned with how He works in my life, for me. I’ve been fixated on myself: Is my faith strong enough? Do I believe? Why do I doubt? Do I love God in my heart? It’s been all about me.
Richard Stearns turned that internal focus inside out:
“Being a Christian, or follower of Jesus Christ, requires much more than just having a personal and transforming relationship with God. It also entails a public and transforming relationship with the world…Living out our faith privately was never meant to be an option.”
I thought for a long time about those statistics on world poverty. I thought for a long time about what Stearns said about having a personal and public relationship with God. And I thought a long time about how much I have -- how much more than enough I have.
On September 1, I launched The Shop-Not Project – a year-long shopping hiatus. No clothes, no shoes, no purses, no jewelry, no accessories. For 365 days. The money saved at the end of twelve months will be used to sponsor a Compassion child.
The thing is, I love to shop. Love it like a Coco Chanel. Love it like a Paris Hilton. It doesn’t even need to be extravagant shopping. A sweater on sale at Old Navy is enough for me; consignment store jeans will light my fire. It’s the shopping I love, the high I get from something new.
The first couple weeks of Shop-Not were easy. I felt virtuous, proud (probably not exactly what God intended).
But then reality set in. I went shopping with my husband – he had a gift card to Banana Republic. While he tried on pants in the dressing room, I breezed over to the women’s side of the store and ran my hand along the fabrics – cashmere, merino wool, tweed, satin. The thought of 11 more months of no shopping gave me nothing short of a pit in my stomach.
My solution for now is to steer clear, to avoid the temptation of Target and Ann Taylor. Out-of-sight, out-of mind helps to ease the urge to buy that fitted blazer or the sumptuous tote. And when in doubt, I page through The Hole in Our Gospel again. Because there’s no avoiding the truth in these words:
“There is no ‘whole gospel’ without compassion and justice shown to the poor.
It’s that simple.”