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Have you ever thought about the “why” of materialism?
Sunday night I left Tennessee for Brazil; left my very comfortable home for a 16-hour, three-leg flight. I was met at the small Vitoria airport by one of our houseparents. We traveled through the relative affluence of the ocean-front residential section of town then began to wind our way up broken streets to Hope Mountain. We passed squalor; we came within feet of the brutal children’s prison at Cariacica; we saw filthy children sitting on street curbs.
Discomfort. Back in the beautiful Springtime of East Tennessee, it is very easy to forget about these children — even when there are children not too different from these within miles of my home. But my isolation, surrounded by things I love, makes it so easy to forget about the needs in my own community, to say nothing of the desperate needs of children around the world.
An emerging world church leader was once asked what he saw as the greatest challenge for the American church. His one-word answer? “Affluence.” Why do we as Christians pursue wealth as we do? I would like to believe that it is so we can engage our world and make it better for those most in need. Unfortunately, I believe the truth is usually just the opposite: it is so we can isolate ourselves from the pain and need that surrounds us.
In so doing, however, we also isolate ourselves from the God who provides. If we have everything we need, we don’t need Him. And consequently, we don’t need to care for those who have nothing.
Perhaps the courage to live a truly Christ-like life is the courage to refuse isolation from those who are hurting. The ones Christ called “the least of these.”
How courageous are you?

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