At Pepperdine I attended a class taught by Thomas Fitzpatrick. He is the campus minister on Pepperdine’s campus. His class title intrigued me – Illegal Aliens, Bottled Water, Nike Shoes, and Everything Else I Now Question (How Being Like Jesus Messes You Up). A fairly long title, but intriguing!
The class was basically about a holistic gospel. A holistic gospel is one that affects more than just the church we choose to attend, how we worship, or whether or not we pray before a meal. A holistic gospel is one that impacts all of our lives – our workplace, our home, our decisions, our purchases, etc…
He never really came to a conclusion on anything. He basically just posed a bunch of questions and we spent the rest of the time discussing different issues.
The biggest issue we discussed was the gospel’s impact on our purchases.
- It has been well documented that Nike provides terrible working conditions and pay for their workers in other countries. You could almost call it inhumane practices. Many of their workers are making no more than the equivalent of $1.50 per day (not hour, but day!), yet we pay $100 for the shoes. There have been documented reports of physical abuse, hiring underaged children, and hazardous working conditions. Should these facts and our knowledge of the gospel play any role in our decision to purchase or not purchase Nike products?
- Today’s experts proclaim that bottled water is no better than water from our tap (in fact, scientist say we have a better idea of what is coming out of the tap, as opposed to some bottled waters). Yet, Americans spent nearly $16 billion last year on bottled water. There are over 1 billion people worldwide that lack access to any sort of safe drinkable water. In 2004 there was an estimated 2.2 million deaths related to unsafe drinking water, 90% of that number was children under the age of 5. I would think that $16 billion would go a long way in helping change those horrible statistics. Should this knowledge and our knowledge of the gospel play a role in whether we choose water from the tap or bottled water?
These are tough and convicting questions, especially when you read passages like:
- Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered. ~ Proverbs 21:13
- The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. ~ Luke 4:18-19
- As the apostles were struggling with what to do with the Gentiles and whether or not Paul should take the gospel to them, they eventually gave him the OK and only gave him one requirement. Paul says, “All they asked was the we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. ~ Galatians 2:10
I could list many many more passages regarding God’s love and concern for the poor and oppressed. The question we discussed was whether or not this knowledge should have any impact on the purchases we make in life. Wow, following Jesus really will mess you up!