On Saturday I was at the YEC (Youth Evangelism Conference) in Cambridge. About 280 leaders and volunteers gathered to be inspired, challenged and equipped on sharing the good news, with a special emphasis and focus on young people. I went to one seminar by Andy Hawthorne, who described how The Message Trust, of which he’s a leader, sends teams into some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country to ‘live sacrificially, share the gospel and build authentic community’. 1
He told us about the very first team they sent out into Benchill, Manchester, at the time the most deprived council ward in England and Wales. He also told us about a lady from Chorleywood who had signed up to join a similar team. Chorleywood was, at the time, ranked the richest ward in the country. This shocked me a little. Not so much the fact that this is the richest place in the country (I’m no longer surprised when I see 3 or 4 digit car registration plates), but more the dramatic contrast between life in the most and least deprived areas, and how ‘out of touch’ we can become.
Now, of course it’s not wrong to have ‘things’ (although there is a line – unless you’re Postman Pat you really don’t need a 4 digit registration plate), but there is a real danger in the inoculating effect of wealth and comfort. Many of us get hot and bothered when the wi-fi isn’t working for thirty seconds, or we have to wait a whole day for the plumber to come and fix the boiler, or we have to wait three whole minutes in the queue at Morrisons to pay for our branded food shop. And by the way, how did we honestly get to the point where clothes shopping is seen as a hobby?!
More importantly, luxury so often obscures our great spiritual need. It can make us think we don’t need God.
I’ll close with this verse: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” (Romans 12:1)
What a challenge, but what a joy, when living for God is more important to us than any possession or wealth.
Charles Vickers (Children’s & Youth Intern)