Dear People Who Live Differently And Write About It
I bought a KeepCup last Friday. I know this is the groundbreaking news you were hoping to hear. You may be wondering why a) I spent $25 on a 12oz glass travel mug and b) I’m writing to tell you about it, so let me just go ahead and say that it’s 100% because of your influence.
It all started because Jen Hatmaker decided to live differently and write Seven. And she did that, in part, because Shane Claiborne decided to live differently and write The Irresistible Revolution. And he did that, probably in large part, because Jesus decided to live the most differently of all and a bunch of people wrote about that.
Here’s the thing about you, People Who Live Differently And Write About It: I really think there is no end to the influence you have, and I bet you don’t even know the half of it. There’s no way to know how far the ripples of influence extend, as clearly demonstrated in my purchase of a sustainable mug. I didn’t buy a KeepCup because I wanted or needed a new travel mug. I’m a middle class American. I have, like, 12 travel mugs and use approximately two of them.
I bought a KeepCup because you people have all teamed up to make me think critically about how I’m living.
One time Jen said,
Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor. It appears a good way to bring relief to the oppressed is to bring real relief to the oppressed. It’s almost like Jesus meant what He said. When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence infinitely more than a tract or Christian performance in the local park. They convey, “God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue.”
And then another time Shane said,
We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what he did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours. I had come to see that the great tragedy of the church is not that rich Christians do not care about the poor but that rich Christians do not know the poor.
And before all of that, Jesus said,
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.
Let’s be clear about the fact that I helped exactly zero poor people by purchasing a KeepCup. I actually made myself poorer by spending money I didn’t need to spend. Except I probably didn’t make myself poorer, because a decision to move in a better direction feels like the opposite of poor.
You’ve convicted me about how American my life is. Which, at face value, makes sense. I live in America. But the more I know Jesus, and the more you demonstrate what it looks like to live like He did, the less I see of Him in the American way of life – and in my own American way of life. Why do I have (comparatively) so many possessions? Why am I comfortable with having (comparatively) so much money? How am I serving “poor” people, in any nuanced interpretation of what it means to be poor? And, as it relates to coffee cups, how on earth do I casually put so much waste on earth?
So, I bought a KeepCup to avoid having to throw away a disposable cup every time I buy coffee. And I bought a KeepCup, specifically, because KeepCup is leading a really good charge against convenience culture and I want to support them. And I bought it from the local coffee shop I frequent because I also want to support my neighbors here in Harrisburg. And I’m going to donate all of the other travel mugs I don’t need or use because holy excess. No one needs that many things, and someone else might actually be able to use them.
No one’s life is going to change because of this one decision. I could easily be living 90% of my life differently and better. I actually want that; I want to live differently than I am right now and in pretty substantial ways. But no one has ever gone on a 30-day celery and bone broth diet and kept the weight off forever. There is a reason why crash diets don’t work. Sweeping, lasting change takes time. The tortoise wins the race. So maybe this is just one decision, but if I keep making these decisions, hopefully, eventually, my life will look far less American and far more like Him.
All of that to say, thanks for being willing to live differently and thanks even more for being willing to write about it. I want to join you in that endeavor, today with 982 words about a KeepCup, and maybe tomorrow with something even more significant.