What *does* it cost?

Have you ever stopped to think, really think, about the impact that our choices make on the world? By ‘world’ I don’t me the world that exists immediately around you and me, I mean the world as a people group…a very…large…people group. I know this sounds trite, but the stuff that we use on a daily basis, the shirt I’m wearing, the shoes I wear, the contacts in my eyes, the case that holds my sun glasses…all of this stuff comes from somewhere. It doesn’t magically show up on the shelves of our favorite stores…it comes from somewhere.

It is this ‘somewhere’ that I’m thinking about as I write at the moment. Here’s what is on my mind: If I am a person that wants to see the beauty of the Kingdom exposed and evil destroyed, do I only care about that happening in close proximity to me? Or do I care about that globally? If we want to take seriously kicking the darkness away, we have to act small and think big…We have to realize that our small choices matter because they end up influencing someone, ‘somewhere’.

Check out this video:

My friend Deb showed this at the start of her talk at our conference the other week and it has haunted me since. I can’t get the picture of my Maisie gluing those freakin’ shoes together for 8 hours a day out of my head. I can’t imagine my Maisie waking up in a pile of other kids in a room the size of a closet. I can’t imagine my Maisie eating a small bowl of rice for lunch everyday. So why do I live like it’s ok for someone else’s child to do this? They have a name too…

I don’t know what to do about this.

I guess the reason that I am posting this is because I hate my own apathy towards this problem so clearly. I also think that any of us followers of Jesus who desire to see the Kingdom of God reign in this life need to look at how we have turned a blind eye to the ways our lives contribute to inhumanity…which is one of the ultimate forms of evil we can see. The Scriptures talk so much about God siding with the oppressed, protecting the innocent, and caring for the poor…it is His heart and we are to join Him where He is. I once heard a modern day prophet say, “God, my friends, is with the poor. And God is with us when we are with them!”

I am going to start by praying: God, give me eyes to see what needs to be seen…and courage to not turn back towards comfort when I see something I wish had stayed hidden.

I’ll end this post with this…In the book Amos, who was a fig farmer turned mouthpeice for God (7:14), Amos is quoting what the oppressors of the needy say, they say, “We can buy the poor with money and the needy for a pair of sandals” (8:6) Watch the video again if you need to make this connection.

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  1. Jen on August 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Great post Justin. Gave me a little tear.

  2. erin :: the olive notes on August 14, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    love this video…it’s been one of our favorites for a while now. We’ve been trying to be more conscious of this, although it’s so hard – but every effort helps.

  3. Christine on August 14, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    such an eye opening reality check for commercialism, in any form. oh the comfort we have at the expense of others. thank you for this post…and while it pains me to think of little maisie, or ethan or avery, doing those very things, you’re right; they too, are someone’s children.

  4. Diane Davis on August 15, 2008 at 12:40 am

    A very timely post for me personally. I just stole the Bono clip and put it on my blog. The other video will surely make my blog at another time too. Very powerful stuff. I love your thoughts on it… so glad I found your blog. 🙂

  5. Katie Barker on August 15, 2008 at 5:28 am

    Hi Justin,
    thanks for the video and your thoughts. I’d like to recommend the book “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity” by Ronald J. Sider. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but it’s definitely got some good ideas in it.

  6. Svest-in-law on August 15, 2008 at 11:26 am

    Wow. Thanks for posting this Justin. I actually had the kids watch this with me and it’s so interesting to hear their responses. Ethan actually said “wow, I am thankful for the shoes that that boy made for me.” Which, though, his response made me think of the gratitude he has for the things that were made from sweat and blood, I still had to explain to him that these children don’t have a choice and that they are not given a fair profit for the things they make for us. They are missing out on their childhood, and pushed into an unfair life to make things so that our life is better. That they are sacrificing their life for ours. That caught him off-guard and I could see his “wheels” trying to process that. I went on to ask him “what do you think we could do to help out these children?” He said “by not buying things that are made in China”. We went on to have an extensive conversation about the sacrifices we should be willing to make in order to help these children. We talked about how the more products we buy from Asia, the more children are put to work. Ethan said “Oh no. Mom…I think my legos are made from China!” He then went on to say “I really really want that new set I am saving my money for, but I can’t buy it if I know it’s made from one of those factory’s.” I could see he was disappointed but more than willing to give up his desire. So we did a little research and found out that the lego blocks are NOT made in China, but made in Europe. You can imagine his relief! But this has been an eye opener for us and actually a great beginning to me teaching the children the effects or our American “Needs”.
    This will be an interesting assignment for us all. Thanks Justin!

  7. Nathanael Rowe on August 15, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Dude I have been struggling with this a lot. One day I was riding home from somewhere, and I saw this person sleeping under the bridge without a sleeping bag. I thought to myself, self you have lots of sleeping bags ride home and give one to this person. When I got home, I talked my self out of it.

    Eventually I gave all my extra stuff to a guy I know who does homeless ministries, but I still feel like such a pig for having all the crap that I do. I am honestly trying to get to a point where I only own what I can put on my motorcycle.

    I sold my truck, and a lot of my furniture. I have more to get rid of still, but I feel very passionately about having less stuff. Its almost as if our stuff enslaves us. We have to keep it up, and we don’t want to move because we have to much of it. I think Jesus had it right by being able to go anywhere with out worrying about all his stuff. I think as Christians we need to live simpler and therefore more free lives.

    Sorry for writing so much.

  8. Bri Johns on August 16, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Justin, you have a gift for passionate and relevant teaching. I saw this on Jen’s blog and decided to check it out. Thanks for this. I needed to hear it.

  9. Amy on August 16, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    WOW! God’s timing is amazing! The end of that video says “some things cost more than you realize” which is so, so true and I think our consumeristic (is that a word?) society needs to be reminded of that often. Bryce and I just had a conversation on the way home from the High School camp we just served at. About 100 kids, 15-18 year olds, just compiled their pocket change and some spare cash they had from summer jobs. Money they could have spend consuming…but instead they paid for a house for a family in Mexico! A HOUSE! They raised $2400 in one week and changed someone’s life! We even talked about the “things” they weren’t buying. They were really moved to realize that they didn’t even sacrifice anything…they just put together some “mad money.” It was SO cool!!! Okay, so, this is going off on a tangent… Anyway, amazing things happening all around the world every minute! Thanks for sharing!!!

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