Review and Reflection on “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” by Ronald J. Sider

Pastor Matthew Best
8 min readNov 29, 2023

The title of this book caught my attention. It seems to sum up the internal struggle I have these days — Christians claiming one thing, and then living completely different. It’s not so much the idea that rich Christians are bad people. It’s more the idea that we live in a land that is quite literally the richest nation that has ever been and yet, we are surrounded by a large population of people who lack basic necessities. It raises the question — Why? And that’s not counting the people outside of this nation who are struggling to survive. This book isn’t about individual people, but rather a rich nation that claims to be Christian and a large population of people who are poor and hungry. How is this possible? That’s what this book is about.

This is the sixth edition of this book, which was first published in 1997. This edition was published in 2015, so it’s a little dated, but really the main idea still holds.

“We still live with more than a billion desperately poor neighbors. Another 1.2 billion struggle near poverty with very little hope for a decent life. Nor has God’s special concern for the poor changed. Hundreds of biblical texts tell us that God still measures our societies by what we do to the poorest.” (Pg. xv). How do we treat our neighbors? What are we called to? None of this is new. Not by a long stretch. Scripture has been talking about all of this for a long, long time. It’s just inconvenient for a wealthy nation. Or maybe we tell ourselves that taking care of the world’s poor goes against our national interest. Or maybe we tell ourselves we don’t have enough money to feed the world, all while spend huge amounts of money on weapons that can literally kill every living thing on this planet multiple times over. We always seem to have more than enough money for weapons that kill and destroy, but we never seem to have enough money for things that heal, food that ends hunger, housing to keep people from being unhoused, and other things that actually lead to thriving lives and communities. Maybe we just feel threatened that if anyone else is doing well, it must mean that we are not doing as well, as if such things were an all or nothing comparison.

Right off the bat, I do want to say there are parts of this book that I found myself asking questions about — questions that made it seem just a bit off. There would whole sections in which there was discussion on poverty and how to help people, but…

--

--

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.