This June I am going to Mexico with a group from my church, First Christian Church (FCC) in Concord, CA. Every year the church packs up an inordinate amount of gear – food, tents, clothes and tools – to go down, across the border to build homes for those in need. There are a number of churches that participate within our Northern California region and FCC Concord as well as Lafayette Christian Church, serve as the organizers for this wonderful event.
And they have this down too! Having done this for many years, they know all the steps to take and how to get everyone organized. It is brilliant really; something that cannot happen unless you have the right people in the right places working together, as they do. It is a wonderful thing to watch and be a part of. I admire all the volunteers’ dedication and their attention to every last detail. Despite all the hustle and bustle of getting ready… they never are short of time to hug, laugh and support one another. To me, this surely is the Kingdom of God played out before my eyes. I am humbled by their love and graciousness.
This year we are going to build a home for a family of five. Fortunately we will be working along the shores of Rosarita over an inland location in Tecata. The ocean breezes will surely provide the relief we need under the Mexican sun.
The family to receive this home currently live in a 1 room house with a plywood roof. Outside, nearby, is an outhouse. While the house we build will not be vastly bigger it will provide a better roof and more room inside for this growing family. I cannot imagine a 1-room home being sufficient for a family of 5, can you? Here is a picture of what they currently live in.
When looking at this picture I am suddenly reminded of our consumerism. If we consider the average size of a home being built in America today for, mind you, a smaller family than this – something is out-of-whack. Although the average new home built in America (2009) is about 2,065 square feet (down from the 2.349 square feet of 2004) it is a far cry larger than this family of 5 will enjoy or a far cry different than the modest homes many of us were raised in.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a home larger than I need so I am what I am thinking about when I think about our tendency to want bigger and better than we need. It is things like this that affirm for me that we Americans have bought into a notion that progress means bigger, better, or more over it meaning equal, just or fair.
To me, this stands counter to the call of Jesus who had no home to lay his head and cared solely about giving of himself so that others could live life abundantly. Where Jesus measured his success by faithfully living in service; we measure our success by the money we have and the things we own.
As much as we Americans try to convince ourselves that we can hold onto nationalism, consumerism and individualism in one hand while holding onto the claim of being Christ-like in the other… it is realities like this, that tell us we are wrong. Perhaps in our convincing, we are doing more to transform Jesus into who we are than ever being transformed into his?
May we, even if it is for a simple action or something that sets in motion a fundamental change, think again, turning from our consuming appetite towards a hunger to serve. As Jesus said, For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. (Matt 25:35).
Imagine if you will… we gladly gave of what we have in abundance so that others may not do without or others may be able to come to know Jesus the Christ as we? When we open our hands to give, they are open to receive. Thank you for your time.