Wednesday, June 1, 2011

With great comfort, comes great responsibility

In class the other night we were posed a question. Do you think people are obsessed with money today? If so, do you think this is an American thing, or is it universal?

My answer to that question really brings up more questions, and more thoughts. I believe that the more affluent the nation, that is the higher the comfort level and the higher the incomes of its inhabitants, the more a problem it becomes. While there are many people who can have money and comfort, and still be very generous giving souls (Francis Chan for instance) there are many more who become more apathetic as they gain comfort. While we were discussing this, my good friend Nathan phrased it in a verry succint way: The more comfort we have, the less we give.

That's such a powerful way of saying it. As our comfort levels go up, the less empathy we seem to have. I think it's very much because of the lack of experience, the lack of a common suffering to keep us realizing that there are always those less fortunate. We live in a society where everyone seems to have a home, and most of those a tv, a phone, running clean water, a water heater, showers, indoor plumbing. We all have possessions, but how many of those possessions are wants and not needs? Do we lose some of our ability to be empathetic to others when we are not suffering any tribulation or trials? How much harder is it to think about the people in Africa in the blazing sun with no air conditioning, when we are comfortable and cool in our air conditioned homes. It's often not until we see pictures of these people suffering that we are even reminded that there is suffering in the world!

I am not saying that we don't suffer in some ways. But we often seem to think we have it bad, when God has blessed us so tremendously. Our good friends recently sold us a car, and I went to the DMV to do a title transfer and get tags. The lady behind the register said I needed my wifes signature on all the paper work. So I had to turn around and drive another hour to get her signature on the forms, and then come back. Then in the end it was a great deal of money more than I thought it would be! As I am on my way home, I'm literally complaining outloud about how much money I just had to spend. I went silent. God reminded me that he didn't have to give me the car, I had been praying for a car to help out in the summer and fall and here it was! Yet, after my prayers had been answered I was complaining about it!

In the story of the talents, Jesus reminds us that when the king gave out talents to each of his people, some made use of them and some buried them. (Matthew 25:14-30) The ones who made use of them could return the talents when the king returned, doubled. But the one who took what he was given and buried it, he had only the original talent to return. The King came back and blessed the two servants who had doubled his money! But the one who had done nothing, he took away the talent and gave it to someone who could use it! " For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them."

This is a reminder to us, that we have comfort and grace. That we are given in abundance, and God expects us to USE those talents for Him. We are supposed to share that grace and yes, those possessions with our neighbors. We are to take care of them and realize that they are blessings from God, gifts from Him! And if we don't use them, he'll take them away and find someone else who will. You've heard the phrase, if you don't use it, you'll lose it. This is so very true. Just like a beautiful singing voice, with practice becomes a thing of beauty, but when someone quits practicing they often lose that ability. Playing the guitar can be a lovely experience with practice and devotion, but if someone only picks it up once a year, they'll never develop that talent (even if they have a natural affinity for it.) Use your talents, and not just for yourself! Reduce your wants! Supply your needs, and with the excess help supply the needs of others.

In Christ,