advent conspiracy [spend less]: Taido Chino
I have a problem.
Lots of them actually.
Problem #1: I like things more than I should. I wish that I could say that I am immune from the all-powerful appeal of the latest shiny gadget, but I’m not. I even own one or two of those pretty glossy pieces of technology. But they aren’t enough.
They are never enough.
There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
– G.K. Chesterton
Alison and I have been fairly committed to living within our means for some years now, which has thankfully kept us from going on too many unfettered shopping binges. And yet, even though the means to accumulate are lacking, the desire to do so isn’t.
I wish the problems list ended there. You and I both know it doesn’t. Problem #2: I have authority issues. Even though we have practiced a form of “spending less” for numerous Christmases, I sort of resent being told to do so. I mean it isn’t like God is going to like me any more or less based on whether or not I do, right?
And yet, somehow frugality has become one of the marks of a really serious Christian. Someone who is really committed to following Jesus would not spend more during the Christmas season. They would spend less, to give more.
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.”
– C.S. Lewis
Which brings me to Problem #3: I like to play devil’s advocate. I almost always think I could argue the other side, and in this case I think I could marshal a pretty good case not for frugal giving, but for extravagant gift giving.
Was God frugal when he gave to us? Did God withhold any good thing from those he loved? Did he not give everything he had? Didn’t he lavish his good gifts on us? In our efforts to love like God loved, shouldn’t we withhold nothing as well?
Give like God. Give like crazy.
Sounds like a preaching series to me.
Before we print new sermon outlines, there are a couple of issues to work through.
First, God is infinite in resources. And even though we would like to be, we aren’t. If God holds nothing back, he still has more to give. If we spend all the money we have (and a bunch we don’t), the electricity gets turned off and the house gets foreclosed on. I certainly don’t need to add fiscal irresponsibility to my already burgeoning list of issues.
But the infinitely more important thing to come to terms with is the content of God’s giving. God did in fact hold nothing back. He gave and gave and gave. But what was the infinitely valuable gift that God gave us?
What do we want to give and (more honestly) get?
And so we come back to the question all over again. What is it that we want to give this Christmas season? Something that will ultimately end up collecting dust on a shelf? Stuffed in a drawer? Returned to Wal-Mart? Thrown in the trash?
Or do we want to give something that is truly valuable? It is a little cheesy, a little hard to believe, but entirely true…
you are the most valuable gift you can give.
Today’s post is by Taido Chino, who works with middle and high school students at FN. He is married to Alison, and they have 4 kids: Cole, Mary Polly, Ben and Simon (and currently, Vitara, an exchange student!) Taido is something of a theology nerd and mountain enthusiast whose favorite December pastime is cruising the Inflatahouse. Oh, and he twitters.
This Christmas season at FN, we’ve decided to join into the Advent Conspiracy. As a part of celebrating together, we’ve asked several people to write about each week’s topic here on our blog. And we’d like for you to join in too: share your reactions, plans, or experiences in the comments. Or, if you post on your own blog, leave a link in the comments. Post pictures to our Facebook wall. Tweet us @fellowshipnorth. Let’s use our online space as a community – one that will conspire together this Christmas season!