Americans sometimes think poverty is the result of laziness. If we see someone who is homeless, or if we see a guy begging for food or money, we think “get a job.” I’ve thought that way without realizing how wrong I could be.
And in places like Uganda and Haiti poor people work so hard every day. They work harder than probably most Americans do, and they make $2 a day. It’s got nothing to do with how hard they work. That is all they get! And they can’t make it on that.
And they have deceptive governments that are hoarding money and not providing services. We live in a country where we put in clean water for houses. You have to have that. You have to have good drinking water to live. When you live somewhere where the government doesn’t have that standard, and you have to dig your own well and the water is contaminated, you’re dying.
But there are people putting in wells. There are food distribution networks. We can make things so much better for people. Ending poverty can be achieved, if people actually started thinking, “Hey, let’s figure out how to help. If people don’t have water, let’s figure out how to get them water. If they don’t have food, let’s figure out how to get them food.”
I wish churches would think that way. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind. You ask, “Where do you put most of your money?” And people say, “Well, we’re trying to do a church-building project.” I know sometimes you need it. But other times you don’t, you just want to do a church-building project.
It’s better to ask, “Where is your focus as a church?” And we should be saying, “We’re trying to focus on where we are really needed in the world. That’s what we’re trying to do, because that’s what we’re supposed to do.” We should be saying that, because that’s how you love your neighbor as yourself. No one in church is going to want to drink contaminated water, go without food, or make $2 a day. Americans can’t think that way. That’s impossible! I can’t even wake up without spending $10, so I don’t really know how I’d get by on $2 a day.
In the New Covenant, I don’t see where it says you have to tithe. I don’t see the ten percent. You see it a lot in the Old Testament, but you don’t see it in the New Testament. You see a cheerful giver. Be a cheerful giver!
I think that has a lot to do with God saying, “Look, I don’t want your money if you feel like you have to give it up.” I think that’s truly how God thinks. But I do believe, man, if we really gave a tenth of our income, if we really followed that principle, we could change the world. In The Hole in Our Gospel, Richard Stearns says the average churchgoer gives 2.58 percent of their income right now. If we gave ten percent, we’d have 168 billion extra dollars, which is twice what we need to alleviate poverty for more than one billion people.
My in-laws just got back from a conference at Bethel Church in Redding, CA. One of the speakers there said the heartbeat of God right now is justice. It is people getting good drinking water. It is people getting rescued from the sex slave industry. It is people getting food. It is creating microloans to help create jobs that help people get out of huts to live in actual homes. My wife told me about this just this morning, and it’s so refreshing to me that this is starting to spread a little bit. People are starting to talk more and more about it. I’ve seen these movements outside the church. Now it’s becoming a movement in the church. I think it should be the thought process of every churchgoer, of anybody who is a follower of Jesus Christ.
We’ve had a blood transfusion with Jesus. And now, if our hearts beat as His heart beats, then we need to start looking at that.