Profession of Practice

INTRODUCTION

This is a profession of practice to put words into actions and embody solidarity with the global poor. We are inspired and chastened by the Word of God. The Bible is the basis of the standards in this profession.

We offer this profession as a helpful tool to enable accountability and form community, not as legalistic requirements for every Christian. The only way sinners can be made pure is by being washed clean in the blood of Christ through faith, not by adhering to any listed set of commitments.

If you would like to join this community of love, read through the profession with care and sign your name at the end. Simple Charity will walk with you to remind, support and exhort you as you practice liturgies of solidarity with the global poor.

LITURGIES OF SOLIDARITY

James K. A. Smith writes in You Are What You Love that liturgies are “habit-forming, love-shaping rituals that get hold of our hearts and aim our loves” (p. 38). Our liturgies are things that we do that “do something to us” (p. 46). Solidarity is a term common in catholic social teaching. It’s a word of unity, a word that says “I see you. I won’t pretend like your suffering doesn’t exist. I am with you.” This is a call for well-resourced Christians to practice liturgies of solidarity with the global poor.

Liturgies of solidarity have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rhythms. They are acts of worship to God and with people. Liturgies of solidarity are how we see the image of God, marred by suffering, in the lives of the poor and respond with love.

We get an idea of what this looks like in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus preaches on five spiritual disciplines related to the poor: giving (Matthew 6:1-4), prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), fasting (Matthew 6:16-18), gratitude (Matthew 6:19-24) and faith (Matthew 6:25-34). To be performed as acts of worship, each of these practices must be qualified by the essential Christian virtues of humility, community and love.

ESSENTIAL VIRTUES

Humility - Matthew 6:1

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raises the standard of what it means to be a good person. He says that we must be holy not just externally, but also internally. In Jesus’s economy, a good act with a prideful motive is worthless. Practicing liturgies of solidarity with humility means that we do them first and foremost as acts of worship to God, regardless of whether other people notice or praise us for doing them. We would do them even if no one else knew.

Community - Hebrews 10:24-25

The principle of community could be seen as a contradiction to the principle of humility, but it is not. The two fit together like intricate spiritual puzzle pieces. Living out solidarity with the poor requires the Body of Christ around us to stir us up to love and good works. We need a Church that reminds us of the Lord’s faithfulness when we are tempted to worry and challenges us to give when we are tempted to covet. We do not exhort others by saying, “Look at me: How well I am doing” but rather, “Look at Christ: How He lived and the words He spoke.” Practicing liturgies of solidarity in community means that we point our Christian neighbors towards Jesus, not our own good works. He becomes our shared love and standard.

Love - 1 Corinthians 13:3

Love is the genuine pursuit of the well-being of another. If we do not love the poor when we give, our generosity is spiritually bankrupt. God wants our hearts. There is a two-way relationship between our hearts and our habits. Even when we do not feel love, prayer and fasting produce the love that we long for. Practicing liturgies of solidarity through love means that we do them to seek the flourishing of the poor, not for some ulterior motive. The love of Christ is our example.

GIVING

Matthew 6:3-4 - Jesus takes it as a given that His followers will be giving financially. As Christians, we start our giving with a tithe, ten percent right away after each paycheck. If we didn’t do this for our last paycheck, repentance means pulling up our online banking account, looking up our last paycheck and giving ten percent of it today. This is an act of faith and the start of Christian giving. If there are leftover funds at the end of the month or year, we can expand our giving.

Commitment

We commit to giving away a minimum of ten percent of our gross incomes immediately after each paycheck as an act of faith and worship.

Aspiration

We aspire to increase our standard of giving, not just our standard of living, as the Lord blesses us with financial resources.

Solidarity

This is an act of solidarity with the global poor who are empowered to overcome poverty and flourish through transformational development.

PRAYER

Matthew 6:11 - Have you ever noticed that the Lord’s Prayer includes language that expresses solidarity with the poor? “Give us this day our daily bread”. Most of us in well-resourced communities don’t actually worry that we won’t eat today, but we are commanded to pray for our daily bread. It is a practice that reminds us that all that we have is a gift from the Lord.

Commitment

We commit to praying the Lord’s Prayer daily, taking a moment to ask God to provide daily bread for us and for the global poor.

Aspiration

We aspire to cultivate an awareness of every breath, every meal and every good thing in our lives as undeserved gifts from the Lord.

Solidarity

This is an act of solidarity with the global poor who have to trust God for their next meal.

FASTING

Matthew 6:17-18 - Jesus does not say “If you fast…” but rather “When you fast.” He then goes on to say that fasting, like giving, should be done in secret as an act of worship to God, not a display for others to see your holiness. There are many good reasons to fast. One of them is to remind ourselves that some go without food due to poverty. Another is to recognize that true nourishment comes from communion with God.

Commitment

We commit to fast from food for at least one 24-hour period each quarter as an act of solidarity with the global poor.

Aspiration

We aspire to occasionally fast for longer periods or special occasions and to do so in secret when possible.

Solidarity

This is an act of solidarity with the global poor who feel the pangs of hunger and want due to a lack of material resources.

GRATITUDE

Matthew 6:19-20 - In no uncertain terms, Jesus condemns hoarding wealth. We lay up treasures in heaven when we express gratitude for what we have instead of chasing more and more. Gratitude creates a sense of enough. It’s not just an attitude. It’s something we do. A good place to start is to list 100 things that we thank God for. Gratitude gives us an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset, enabling us to be “cheerful givers”.

Commitment

We commit to ending each day by thanking God for three specific gifts from that day, either in verbal prayer or a journal set aside for gratitude.

Aspiration

We aspire to not store up more and more wealth for ourselves and our families when there are poor families around the world with urgent needs.

Solidarity

This is an act of solidarity with the global poor who find contentment by thanking God for the simple things like sharing meals with friends and family.

FAITH

Matthew 6:25 - Worrying about the future is often how we justify certain lavish expenditures while calling them prudent and wise, but Jesus says to not be anxious. It is not uncommon to hear poor brothers and sisters say that they do not worry because they trust God. By joining them in choosing faith instead of fear, we express solidarity as we increase our standard of giving.

Commitment

We commit to memorize Philippians 4:5-7 in our favorite Bible translations and quote it to ourselves when tempted to worry.

Aspiration

We aspire to live by faith and not by fear, with peace and not with anxiety, in our thoughts, words and actions.

Solidarity

This is an act of solidarity with the global poor who must trust God with an uncertain future of potential hardships.

JOIN A COMMUNITY OF LOVE

Commitments

We commit to giving away a minimum of ten percent of our gross incomes immediately after each paycheck as an act of faith and worship.

We commit to praying the Lord’s Prayer daily, taking a moment to ask God to provide daily bread for us and for the global poor.

We commit to fast from food for at least one 24-hour period each quarter as an act of solidarity with the global poor.

We commit to ending each day by thanking God for three specific gifts from that day, in prayer or in a gratitude journal.

We commit to memorize Philippians 4:5-7 in our favorite Bible translations and quote it to ourselves when tempted to worry.

Aspirations

We aspire to increase our standard of giving, not just our standard of living, as the Lord blesses us with financial resources.

We aspire to cultivate an awareness of every breath, every meal and every good thing in our lives as undeserved gifts from the Lord.

We aspire to occasionally fast for longer periods or special occasions and to do so in secret when possible.

We aspire to not store up more and more wealth for ourselves and our families when there are poor families around the world with urgent needs.

We aspire to live by faith and not by fear, with peace and not with anxiety, in our thoughts, words and actions.

Isaiah 58:10–11 - "If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then... the LORD will guide you continually...and you shall be like a watered garden"

When you sign your name below, three things will happen.

1. We'll send you short devotionals for a period of time to help you reshape your habits.

2. We'll invite you to join the "Simple Charity Community of Practice" Facebook group which exists to "stir one another up to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).

3. Every six months, we'll send you a short survey to check in.

We hope that these efforts help to provide community, accountability & encouragement as you grow in the virtue of solidarity with the poor.

Make the commitment.