Voluntary Ignorance

I’ve been thinking about John Wesley and how he is remembered as a faithful and “successful” evangelist of the 18th Century. In 1731 he began to limit his expenses so that he would have more money to give to the poor. In the first year his income was 30 pounds and he found he could live on 28 and so gave away two. The next year his income doubled but he held his expenses at the same level. Now he had 32 pounds to give away (a good yearly income). In the third year his income rose to 90 pounds and he gave away 62 pounds. Over the course of his life Wesley’s income grew as high as 1,400 pounds in a year, but he held his expenses steady around 30 pounds each year. ⁣

This caused so much confusion for the English Tax Commissioners that they investigated him in 1776. A man of his income would at least own silver dishes. Surely was avoiding taxation. In response he wrote, “I have two silver spoons at London and two at Bristol. This is all the plate I have at present, and I shall not buy any more while so many round me want bread.” ⁣

When he died in 1791, at the age of 87, the only money mentioned in his will was the coins in his pockets and atop his dresser. Most of the 30,000 pounds he earned over the course of his life had been given away. No wonder Wesley had convictions about generosity and wealth:

“One great reason why the rich in general have so little sympathy for the poor is because they so seldom visit them. Hence it is that one part of the world does not know what the other suffers. Many of them do not know, because they do not care to know: they keep out of the way of knowing it – and then plead their voluntary ignorance as an excuse for their hardness of heart.” ⁣

But this is about more than giving money away. It’s about being present with those considered lesser, poor, displaced, or marginalized. It is about giving one’s whole life, because that is what God does for us.

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
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2 Responses to Voluntary Ignorance

  1. bishopdfaith says:

    Thanks for the good educational challenge.



  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you. God bless you.


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