Is America Uniquely Favored by God?
The tendency of wealth to entrap people in greed has been confirmed in numerous studies. Research has consistently shown that, generally speaking, the more people have, the less percentage of their income they tend to give away.
This is even reflected on a national level in the case of America. In 2000, the gap between the wealth of the average Americans and that of the poorest 25% of people on the planet was four times greater than what it had been in 1960. During this same period of time, the percentage of our country’s Gross National Product (GNP) that went to providing assistance to the poorest 25% of people on the planet decreased to about one tenth of what it had been in 1960! (See Ron Sider’s Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger).
In other words, the richer we have gotten as a nation the more we have tended to keep for ourselves and the less we have given to help the poor.
“[W]oe to you who are rich…” (Lk 6:24). Most of us need to take this warning seriously.
We need to remember that the most frequently mentioned reason why God judged nations in the Old Testament was that they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezek 16:49). In this light, consider that two thirds of Americans are now overweight – with close to one third being obese. Meanwhile, about half the world lives in poverty and close to a billion are malnourished. Upwards of 40,000 people die each day of issues related to poverty, disease and malnutrition.
This has got to make you wonder about the claim, frequently made by Christians, that America is a nation uniquely favored by God. If God was still operating as he sometimes did in the Old Testament, all indications are that America would be on his hit list!
Add to this the fact that we Americans constitute less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume over 25% of its resources. At the same time, measured by the percentage of our GNP that we invest in developing countries, we are the least generous of the developed countries. Consider also that the US government spends far more on our military (as much as 27 times more) than we did on helping the poor, even in our own country. Along the same lines, Americans spend enough money on entertainment each year to feed all the hungry people on the planet for a year!
In this light, I don’t think I’m going out on limb too much by claiming that greed and gluttony are rampant in America.
Much more concerning to me, however, is that they are also rampant in the American church. The average American gives 2% of their income to helping people in need. Christians improve on this statistic by less than 1%.
Now, no one is in a position to judge other individuals in terms of how greedy or generous they are. But these statistics certainly tell us something important about Americans as a group – and American Christians as a group. We are guilty of grieving the heart of God by hoarding more resources and food than we need while multitudes of his children around the globe are dying because they have less than they need.
A nation uniquely favored by God? I don’t think so.
Image by mdghty via Flickr
J J via Compfight Our friend Rachel Held Evans posted on the CNN Belief Blog in response to a blog on Dave Ramsey’s website entitled The 20 Things Rich People Do Every Day. Rachel points out, rightly, that Dave Ramsey has helped many people get rid of debt and make wise financial changes in their lives. But…
A number of years ago I attended a basketball game at a Christian school. Just before the game everyone was asked to stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance. So I stood, placed my hand over my heart, and began to recite our national creed. Halfway through, however, I began to wonder what I was…
If you really want to defend the poor from Caesar, shouldn’t we use the political means that exist? It’s easy to make your argument when you are in a position of privilege.
Question: I’ve been reading your blogs for a while. I’ve read multiple texts written by you and it’s difficult to listen much longer as someone in poverty. It’s easy to make your argument when you are in a position of privilege. The Church doesn’t have the power and resources to help the poor everywhere. Christians…
To go along with our other post today, here’s a clip from Greg’s sermon last week. If you don’t have any financial margin in your life, this might have something to do with it. You can find the entire sermon here.
Ronn aka “Blue” Aldaman via Compfight In case you think the last post was a veiled endorsement for Obama, here’s an article arguing that Mitt Romney is the candidate to vote for if you really care for the poor. Again, there are many schools of thought and it’s overly simplistic to think that voting for…
Hartwig HKD via Compfight Christena Cleveland has been doing a series called Beyond Multiethnic on her blog for the last several weeks. It’s superb. In her introductory post, she states: I’m excited about the booming interest in multiethnic/multiracial church, I really am. But racial/ethnic divisions are really just the tip of the iceberg; they’re often the most glaring…