photo credit: Troy Livesay
Hopefully you've checked out The Better World Shopping Guide or the free online information from Free 2 Work. When shopping, these are great resources to use to make informed decisions considering the power we wield every time we pay for the products we purchase.
These guides have been helpful for me to know how best to shop when I find myself at a grocery store or retail store. What's most exciting is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
If you've been around here very long, you've heard me say this before...
There was a time when my Christ-following life could have been summed up by saying I was constantly on the look-out for things not to do. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't cuss. Don't say mean things. Don't be lazy. Don't, don't, don't, don't. If you hang out with Jesus at all in the New Testament, who claims to be just like His father in heaven, you find out really quickly that Jesus didn't walk this earth simply telling people what not to do. Yes, He gave warnings. Sin was obviously serious to Him, and He was real quick to teach that sin leads to death, it's never productive, and ultimately robs us of the life that Jesus came to give. A rich life. An abundant life. Jesus called Himself the way..the truth...the life. He talked an awful lot about the Kingdom that is coming..the Kingdom where our true citizenship resides..a kingdom that is mind-blowingly different than this earthly one.
The New Testament writers followed Jesus' example. Their letters also contain warnings, but most of what they seem to pointing out is that there is an enormous amount of life out there, and Jesus wants us to run after it. Seek Justice. Seek righteousness. Set our minds on what is good and pure. Clothe ourselves with compassion. Care for the world. Love people out of the torrential love that has been showered upon us through the gospel.
So how can Jesus' teachings...His nature...the life that He's calling me and He's calling you to be about penetrate our shopping? How can Jesus redeem this area of our lives like He's busy redeeming all things?
Sure, we could make a long list of things not to do. We could make a lengthy list of companies to boycott. We could become people obsessed with "what not to do" by becoming people obsessed with "what not to buy." Would we have missed the point? Yes, warnings are good. Steering clear of certain companies may be necessary. But where is the life? Where is the good that God is calling us...beckoning us...encouraging us to find? I want to run hard and wild after that. Don't you?
What if instead of "not doing something" we started "doing something?" What if that "something" was trying to find companies who are doing what we all want to be doing, finding companies who value what we want to value and then supporting them? What if we use our voices to advocate for them? To advertise for them? Brilliant minds all over the world can argue all they want about whether there should be sweat shops or not...and all day long they can say that taking sweat shops out of poor countries only hurts the poor more. Maybe they are right. Maybe they aren't. I'm no global economist. But this is one thing I know for sure...if more of us support companies who are treating their employees with fairness and who value the people that work for them, those companies can expand. They can employee more men, more women, more fathers, more mothers. I'm just crazy enough to believe that when believers run hard after what is good and right...when we put our money where our mouth is...that we can kick a lot of the darkness found in this world in the pants.
Next week I'm going to let some of my favorite companies share with you, in their own words, what it looks like to run a business where making a difference in their employees lives is as important as making a profit. Companies who not only make incredible products, but who are doing beautiful work in the lives of the people that make the products they sell. These are business men and women who have set up shop across the ocean, using their business skills and artistic ability to set captives free. They have inspired creativity and ingenuity in some of the most oppressed people in the world. Isn't it lovely to sit and think that within the slums of this broken world God's hand...His mark...His image is there. Beauty is there. Hidden. Waiting. That's a miracle. Doesn't it sing loudly of a good God who is at work making all things new?
Each company is run by someone I personally know. I know-them, know-them. In real life. I know their hearts. I love their products. I can't wait to share their stories with you.
One of my favorite ways to live out God's heart towards the poor is to support companies who value their employees. I love the opportunity to vote for things that are near and dear to God's heart...justice for the poor...freedom for the helpless...hope for the destitute. These companies are producing high-quality products by people whose lives are being changed...cycles of poverty are being broken...they have been offered hope, a chance, and dignity.
I'm excited to share these stories with you. I'm also thrilled that each company is giving away one of their products.
"God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation." -- Tim Keller in Generous Justice
Other posts in this series:
Caring for the Poor While Living in the Good ol' U-S of A?
Who Are the Poor?
Looking for the Poor
Hi, My Name is Heather and I'm a Modern Day Slave Owner
First, The Purging
The Better World Shopping Guide
More Really Great Resources