Tag Archives: income inequality

Living more…with less


Many years ago I was inspired by a book called Living More With Less. It was written in 1980 by Doris Janzen Longacre before “living green” was in vogue. Her premise is that we live “more” when we live in ways that honor God’s creation, are mindful of the plight of the poor, and in keeping each other in mind. She asserts we can live more when we live with less. Her book describes practical ways to “live simply so others can simply live.” (You can get a copy here.)


I was thinking about this yesterday when reading about “income inequality” in the USA. I was reflecting on our observations in Bolivia where world poverty reports list 45% of people there living on $2 or less a day. In fact, much of the world lives on less than $1 per day. We read about it in the news – children going without food and medicine, no access to clean water, no hope for sustainable living – and yet such news is quickly shoved aside. After all, we live busy lives and what could we do about such things anyway?


We could live more simply so others could simply live.


We went on an experiment in living more simply, first by choice and later by conscription to a situation. What we found is that there is often more in less. For example, if you enjoy an income of $30,000 and you find a way to live well on $25,000 you have $5,000 more, not less than you had before. If you live on $50,000 and live on $40,000 you have $10,000 more. If you live on $100,000… well you get the picture. People think they can’t afford to tithe or give to others. They think they couldn’t possibly live on any less than what they have. But we can and maybe we should if we are really interested in Jesus’s commands to look after the needs of the poor. We all have more available to share when we live with less.


Living with less doesn’t mean living with nothing or even living less. It means living well with a clean conscience, celebrating what you have that you value most. There’s no inherent value in living a minimalist life-style as a goal in itself. But living with less can help you – and others – live more. Buying less things means having less things to store, less space to store it, less to insure, less to break, and less to worry about. Living with less not only provides more savings, but also more enjoyment of what you have, more awareness of the simple things, more of the beauty around us. Making more money doesn’t always allow us to live more. But living more with less might. Living more with less contributes less to filling the landfill and more to filling our lives with the best God really intended – for us and for others in need.


I know this sounds crazy and maybe impossible. We’re conditioned to follow the pattern of this world in always wanting more. Having more makes us happy – we think – until we tire of what we have and yearn to replace it with something better, something more. Too often more is less and less is more. By renewing our mind, there is a transformational power to live more, even with less…especially with less.


What would living more with less look like for you? Imagine how it would simplify your life and fill it with more satisfaction and meaning.

Here’s to living more – with less!


Income inequality – wwjd?


Most of you reading this on your computers probably don’t consider yourself rich like “the 1%.” Yet the reality is, we are all likely richer than most living on this planet with us. Some may say, “Well I work for it and so I have a right to my riches.” I don’t disagree. But consider the testimony of the first century church; one of immense generosity out of poverty, living and giving to benefit others in Jesus’ name. Today, most of us live in relative abundance, not lacking for any real needs. I wonder if we are even able to hear Christ asking us to love and serve him by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting those in prison…


Jay Parini, author of “Jesus: The Human Face of God,” has some provoking thoughts for us:


“Ridding the world of poverty is, of course, a fantasy. Jesus knew this: “You will always have the poor among you,” he said (Matthew 26:11). He also said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.” (Luke 6:20). He cries (echoing the Old Testament): “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus also noted that it is easier “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23-24).


“Jesus discouraged the accumulation of wealth , worried about its effects on those who had it, and took special pleasure in helping the poor, dedicating his efforts to them.


“Everyone knows that the wealth gap in the U.S. has increased dramatically. Even those formerly known as the middle class struggle to make ends meet. Do people on the other end of this inequality equation really fare better? Does wealth make you happy? Jesus certainly didn’t think so.


“Neuroscientists have suggested that being rich actually makes you less happy and, even worse, unable to sympathize with the poor. They find that the rich and powerful among us show less brain activity in that region of the brain where human sympathy is excited. Conversely, those who feel poor and marginalized in society show a great deal of sympathetic activity. The ability to sympathize with those around us seems crucial to our survival, and it’s connected to the mirroring functions of the brain.


Is it any wonder that when a rich young man came to Jesus asking for spiritual guidance, Jesus said: “If you wish to feel complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” (Matthew 19:21). The young man “went away grieving,” as he had so much property and didn’t want to let go of anything. But letting go is essential to our own happiness as well as the world’s economic equilibrium. It’s a hard teaching, but it’s important.”


BT: You nor I have all the answers to this issue. But I believe God would love for us to talk with Him about it and then let Him speak to us individually about what Jesus-in-us would do.