Are We as Christians Failing to Help the Hungry Because We Have Unintentionally Absorbed the Consumerism of Our Culture?

Russell D. Moore
Russell D. Moore

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Global Hunger Sunday, Oct. 11, Southern Baptist congregations will address the hunger crisis across North America and around the world by receiving special offerings. Donations received are channeled through Global Hunger Relief, which uses 100 percent of each gift to meet hunger needs.

NASHVILLE (BP) — There’s nothing quite as bleak as a city street the morning after Mardi Gras. The steam of the morning humidity rises silently over asphalt, riddled with forgotten doubloons, broken bottles, littered cigarettes, dried blood and vomit. For the partygoers who embrace the hedonism of the night before, dawn brings little besides a queasy stomach, a pounding hangover, and a throbbing conscience.

For most Americans, this isn’t a strange sight. Even for those of us who would pride ourselves on our “conservative” recreation, an instant connection between our appetite and satisfaction seems normal. We live in a culture of craving.

Perhaps that is why many Americans, even Christians, seem confused or embarrassed when the conversation turns to hunger and extreme poverty. Perhaps we are less able to articulate what the Gospel says about those in desperate need of bread and water because we cannot imagine living in any other society than one with dollar menus and all-you-can-eat buffets. We may be in our own bed with our spouses the night of Mardi Gras, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t unwittingly conforming to the spirit of the culture.

In our Western global culture, food is assumed. Disconnected from the agrarian and subsistence context that nearly every culture in history would have taken for granted, we more or less assume that the dinner on our tables just appeared there. That would have been a wild fantasy for the Israelite culture which our Lord knew. Bread wasn’t a matter of buying “gluten free” or not; it was the basic engine of economic survival. Without a daily glean of wheat, death was certain.

This is the kind of reality that still exists for many people around the world. If we as Christians don’t feel the weight of our Lord’s command to show compassion and mercy to those who need us, perhaps it is because we have unintentionally absorbed the consumerism of our culture.

 

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Russell D. Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (www.erlc.com).

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