There’s a phrase or two that keeps surfacing lately (at least in my cultural circles) that really catches my ear. It’s generally used when someone begins to complain about an issue that really warrants no complaining.
For instance: You complain about having three cars and not enough space in your driveway to park them. Another for instance: You complain because, of the three dozen shoes in your closet, none of them perfectly matches your outfit for the day.
In response to these and other similar conundrums, one will often refer to them as “first world problems” (FWP). Another slightly lesser used response is, “white girl problems” (WGP). This one, of course, can only be used in certain situations.
I’m becoming more and more sensitive to these unbearable situations that arise in our privileged lives. The more stuff I accumulate, the more I notice these inconsequential complaints arising in my life and the lives of those around me. A third for instance: My darling wife and I live by ourselves in a home that could house three small families. I complain because I have to maintain it, pay taxes on it, and rake the leaves…FWP. For Heaven’s sake, I grew up in a trailer!
I realize it’s somehow in our nature to complain and that many of our complaints are just hot air. But when do we cross the line from petty human reaction into rank behavior?
What’s worse, these attitudes bleed into the church. Recently the congregation I serve held an administrative meeting. Like many meetings, it began with a Treasurer’s Report. The report sparked a discussion about our “Rainy Day” fund. This is money we have set aside to use in case things really go south. The question arose—when is it rainy enough to use this money? FWP?
This is a legitimate, practical question and concern (especially for a Christian congregation, I might add). Here we have a considerable sum of money that might equal the entire yearly budget of some congregations around the world. While it’s not enough to put a down payment on a Bugatti, it could certainly tide us over for a while.
When is it prudent to dip into that fund? I suppose some would say, “Hey, you’re a church. Give it to a worthy missionary!” But is that prudent? Is it practical? Is it the Christian thing to do? FWP.
In the end, the whole money thing becomes relative to the situation I suppose. There’s no easy answer to these questions. Should we as a church (and now I’m speaking of the church universal) downsize? Should we get rid of some of our holdings?
The same general questions could be applied to us as individual disciples of Christ. Should WE downsize? Should WE give at least a part of our nest eggs to missions?
I can tell you one thing for sure. Third world Christians don’t have these conversations. Just sayin’…