Perhaps I’m just taking a more holistic view of faith. Jesus did say that we should love God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind. Don’t throw intellect out the window. Live with compassion. With everything in me, love God. And if God lovingly and creatively made the earth and all that is in it, don’t we have the moral and spiritual perogative then to take care of it? Use it, yes. Exploit it, no. And I’ve been thinking about that with people as well. If all people are made in the image of God, then maybe I should treat all people with respect. And if by buying cheaply made things that were made with cheap labour where humans are being exploited, then maybe that doesn’t bring glory to God.
Steve and I have moved to a lower income area of the city. Trying to be more serious about living simply (so others can simply live). Not that you have to live in a low income area of the city to do that, but for me, living near people who don’t have everything, helps me to not want everything. It’s a built in defense mechanism against over consumption. I just have less of a tendency to want what everyone else around me has when those around me don’t have everything…
Somehow, in the time we got back from India at the end of May until now, something has changed in me. I’ve been trying to understand the words of Jesus in the context he said them (instead of through my WASP-y filters). What does Jesus mean when he says that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. And…what does being rich mean? Am I, middle class Canadian that I am, in fact rich? And how can I not be in light of the thousands of people around the world who die everyday from hunger and malnutrition.
In May, Steve and I spent 3 weeks in India – far too short a time frame to grasp the magnitude that is the Subcontinent. But what I think India showed me most clearly is that though we live in the 21st century, we live in a feudal system. Globalization hasn’t changed a thing. A small percentage of the global population, kings if you will, live extremely rich lives, while the poor live excessively poor lives – no access to clean water, hunger and malnutrition, civil war and the list goes on. I do believe that for us to live our comfortable, Walmart filled lives, someone else can’t. And so, we live our way at the expense of the world’s poor. For me to be rich, someone else must be poor. And as a culture in North America, I think we can agree that we all consume too much.
I’ve had friends tell me that Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. I agree with that. But perhaps that statement is less of an excuse we can use to live the way we want, and more of an observation of humankind – there will always be greed among us and that greed fuels that gap between rich and poor. Just because there will always be the poor among us doesn’t mean that Christians should let it stay that way.
Maybe God is a God of justice. And maybe He expects us who call ourselves Christians to be just too.