I have a strange existence.
On one hand, I am a public speaker. On the other hand, I am a missionary. One requires that I be confidently put together and look the part. The other requires humility and has caused a striking awareness of the world. One puts me on a stage in a spotlight…while the other places me on dusty roads in a developing country far out of the sight of our media-driven world. In both situations, though, I feel strangely alive…more so, really, than I ever do.
For awhile now, I have been trying to find balance between these two realities. I need to have nice things to wear so that I can look the part when I am speaking. On the other hand…I have seen the size of a Belizean wardrobe, and I am ashamed by the sheer volume of my own assortment of clothes.
I want to get a new accessory for an upcoming speaking engagement…but I feel ridiculous spending money on yet another necklace when I know how my friends in Belize would stand in awe at the collection I already have.
I feel like I need some more professional-looking clothing…but forking over the money for something nice is hard to do when I know how far that money would go in Belize.
And it can be taken even further. I need a home for my family….but does it need to be as big as the one we have? Simply downsizing would do nothing to benefit the less-fortunate in the world…so what could I do to make it further reaching? And we have to have a car…but do we have to have two? Or do we really need a TV? Or a dishwasher? Simply cutting those things from our lives would do nothing in the grand scheme of the world…so what do we do?
There needs to be balance, and I don’t think it’s just mine to find. I think all of us deal with the realities of being IN the world but trying not to be OF the world. The world has requirements for us that the Kingdom just doesn’t sympathize with. How can we live the way we think we should when it conflicts so starkly with what we know in our hearts?
I have found the balance myself by seeking to buy nothing “new” for myself. I get things that are new to me, but they are secondhand. Even then, though, I have to be careful. The beast of gluttony and the lust for stuff surfaces in real ways at a thrift store bag sale promising literally a grocery bag full of clothing for five dollars. In a case like that, the desire for more, more, more can easily trump the logical, practical, kingdom-minded thoughts on which I try to focus.
We need to find balance. If we profess to be followers of Christ, He should be our first love – not clothing or accessories or books or technogadgets or what have you. The world tells us we need certain things…but our hearts tell us another (when it is allowed to speak and be heard).
Seek the Kingdom of Godabove all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:33)