I would highly recommend Dr. Scott C. Todd’s “Fast Living: How the Church Will End Extreme Poverty. I was fortunate enough to be provided two copies in a special pre-release directly from the publisher for review purposes (I have already given one copy to one of our youth ministry interns who has aims of entering the global mission field). You can purchase a paperback copy for under $10 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/FAST-LIVING-Extreme-Poverty-ebook/dp/B004O0VI8A) or directly from the publisher at http://store.compassion.com/store/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=772&idcategory=.
My favorite chapter was the fourteenth and was titled “Tom’s Truck.” In it, the author describes a time that their painter-friend had unexpectedly lost his truck and therefore was going to be effected financially.
The Bible reads, “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37, ESV).
Todd writes, “I had an old Jeep. A 1981 blue CJ-5 with a rebuilt straight-six. It was super cool, even after I painted over the flames, and Tom had always admired it. (And why wouldn’t he?) After my wife read that passage, she didn’t need to say anything else. I started to feel it. I’m not an emotional guy, but my eyes got watery right there in the coffee shop as I experienced with my wife…this awareness. God’s Word is living and still speaks, “Anyone as he had need.” Anyone? Even a painter you hardly know?” (92).
The author goes on to propose, “My world-changing generosity changed Tom’s life, right? Well, a week after I gave him my Jeep, he sold it and took a trip to Hawaii. I kid you not. Does that mean my and I misunderstood God? I don’t think so. I don’t know what it means. But our faithfulnes to do what we think God calls us to do sometimes takes mysterious turns that seem entirely out of whack. This kind of thing has happened a lot to us Christians over the past two thousand years. We should probably be disillusioned and jaded by now. We really must be fools. But it doesn’t matter. I doubt I’ll show up in heaven and regret ‘being a fool for God.’ I plan to keep ‘listening’ and doing my best to be a faithful servant” (92).
So with that in mind, how many of us have passed by the homeless man without giving him a single dime? We justified not even looking him in the face by telling ourselves that he would have only used our five dollar bill to further his drinking habit. That is not to say that I would have only used the five dollar bill to buy a coffee.
Or how many of our churches refuse to take part in certain acts of kindness because we are not certain that such an event would actually have any sort of tangible return – that no one would actually end up ever attending one of our Sunday morning gatherings? Or worse yet, if we did go through with such an action, maybe “those sorts of people” WOULD actually show up on a Sunday? Is this why we are to show and to share the good news? So that people will come to our churches?
What if we took on another type of approach altogether? What if we did exactly what God told us to do all of the time. No exceptions. No reasoning. No return. Just because people matter to God and therefore should matter to us. What if the person takes our five dollars and uses them to buy a beer? What if we continue to reach out to the same group time and time and time again with little to no results? What if we are made the fool?
Then play the part with all that you have…on behalf of Christ, of course.
Official Book Description: Jesus is decidedly optimistic that His people can end extreme poverty. That’s why Fast Living is unapologetically hopeful. Riveted with eye-opening economic progress. And firmly rooted in God’s words. Scott Todd’s keen biblical insights and on-the-ground experience will change forever how we live the “true fast” of Isaiah 58. And in dramatic fashion, he reveals the truth: Jesus never said the poor will always be with “us.” For a generation of Christians tired of clichés or messages of guilt, Fast Living lifts our expectations to live our noble callings and demonstrate the Good News in history-making ways. Skeptical? Bring your questions and your doubts. Take a personal journey with Dr. Scott Todd in Fast Living and join a movement that will end abject poverty on a global scale.
Official Author Biography: Dr. Scott Todd is the Senior Ministry Advisor for Compassion International and one of the chief architects of 58:. Combining his analytical background in academic research and immunology with his passion for the cause of Christ, he speaks plainly about what is possible when the Church bands together in strategic actions fueled with compassion. He is a champion for the poor. And a voice speaking to a new generation of Christians eager to make a difference.