Frank and I are very conscientious about giving to charity. We try to spread out or giving to a diverse group and research ones that mirror our values – for both our family and the world. We are not good about actually getting dirty and experiencing life with those who are “least” up close. I always tell myself, When the girls are older; When we’re out of the baby stage; When I have more time… The reality is that there is never a good or opportune time to just hang out with the poor. But, that is what Jesus has called us to do. He’s called us to reimagine hospitality and to invite others in.
Craig Greenfield and his family do this. They live with the poor. They eat dinner with drug addicts. They truly live out the message of Jesus. From living in the slums of Pnom Penh, Cambodia to the slums of Vancouver, Canada, Greenfield believes strongly in literally living out the radical message of Jesus – of loving his neighbors, of feeding the hungry, and of treating the poor like people.
In his newest book, Subversive Jesus, Greenfield chronicles his family’s move from Cambodia to Vancouver. They realized that there is a hero assumption when people heard about their work in Cambodia – of course it’s poor; they were amazing for living with “those people.” But, they wanted to bring that same awareness to one of the richest cities in the world, where poverty is still prevalent and where the poor are still marginalized.
I underlined most of Greenfield’s story. He writes with conviction and without sugarcoating our role as Christians. Yet, he does it in a way that is more sharing his own story and journey than judging my choices. He does it in a way that point-blank asks me to rethink why I make certain choices, but is also gracious and loving with my own journey. (At least, it feels that way as I read through his smart-yet-conversational style.)
I won’t share all of my favorite quotes, but this one stood out most for me, probably because I use my kids as an excuse to not get involved with the poor as much as I could or should:
“In making our children into idols, we’ve lost sight of the central place God has for our kids in his purposes. [My wife] and I learned that as we trust God with our family, we will see him at work – not only in our neighborhoods but also in the lives of our children” (pg 70).
Greenfield has me rethinking how I teach my kids about the poor. Unless we meet others and get to know their stories and their faces, it’s more of a commandment than a way of life. Something to check off the “good Christian” checklist rather than truly living how Jesus asked us.
Subversive Jesus is a book that has changed my thought process of parenting and living life. It’s a call to flip our thinking of family, of hospitality, and of relationships upside-down as we reimagine the kingdom of God.
How do you teach your kids about the poor among us? Any advice on how to get hands-on as we open our homes?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Subversive Jesus. Leave a comment about how you actively interact with others who aren’t like you and I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, April 29, 2016. (United States addresses only.)