In the book by Ronald Sider, ‘Rich Christians in an age of hunger’ are challenged to act justly, not only as consumers and campaigners, but also in their lifestyle in general. Rich Christians are challenged to consider the environmental impact of their lifestyles and to ‘live more simply that all may simply live’ – a saying from Mahatma Gandhi used as a fundraising slogan by Christian Aid.
The dangers of greed
Read Colossians 3:5-8 and Matthew 6:24-34. Greed, over-consumption and striving for material security are seen as indications of a lack of trust in God. Why is greed seen as idolatry? Give examples of how serving money damages people and planet.
The example of the Early Church
Read Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:31-37. Go around the group and list all the characteristics of the lifestyle of the early church as seen in these passages. What can Christians learn today from their example?
Generosity, simplicity and contentment
Read 1 Timothy 6:6-10 and 17-19. Discuss John Stott’s view that ‘we are to cultivate generosity on the one hand and simplicity with contentment on the other’ New Issues Facing Christians Today (1999), page 280. What does this mean in practice?
Care for Creation
Read Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15. What do these verses say about mankind’s responsibilities as caretakers of God’s creation? Find examples from the Jubilee and Sabbath laws that show God’s concern not only for justice for humans, but also for the non-human creation, such as animals and the land (Leviticus 25, especially 1-7).
Living more simply is expressed in a number of ways e.g.
• Simplifying diet
• Reducing consumption
• Reducing possessions
• Reducing work time
• Reducing travel
• Increasing self-sufficiency
• Reconsidering technology
• Care for the planet e.g. by recycling
• Ask each member of the group to contribute one action they have already taken to live more simply or to care for the planet (such as recycling), and to say very briefly why they consider this important.
• If you are not doing anything yet, are there obstacles that prevent you doing so?
• If not, what might you consider doing first? What else might you start doing next?