Millions, billions, and trillions of dollars. These words have been before us almost every week, if not every day. National debt, bail out money, bonuses, losses in personal wealth and many more labels attached to those numbers. There are times when I discover myself suffering from dizziness just trying to comprehend numbers that large.
The latest bit of number mania involves the payment of bonuses by AIG using bailout money. People have responded in anger, some because of a sense of injustice, some because they didn’t get the same opportunity, some because they felt deprived in their personal hardships, while others who should be held accountable seem to be reaping rewards.
In reality, the focus upon the idea that we must all scratch and claw to get what we think we deserve and what we think we need translates into the dimension of greed. For the past many years we have lived in the dimension of greed. Get all you can because it may be gone tomorrow. Build the biggest pile of whatever and then guard it with your life, because someone else is going to try and take that pile away from you. Over the past several months we have discovered that the only threat to our welfare has been unbridled greed. Now we are all in the same boat. Remember the story Jesus told of the successful farmer who had so much that he tore down his barns to build bigger barns only to die before he could enjoy the fruits of his efforts? Our barns were houses of cards and a strong breeze has blown them apart.
How do we as Christians respond? Maybe we should return to the dimension of the Kingdom of God. Jesus taught his followers that God wants us to pray for each other, especially those we think of as enemies. We are to surrender our coat and even our shirt if someone asks for them. The early church shared all things in common so that no one went without. Remember the sharing of a few loaves and fish that fed thousands? The dimension of God’s Kingdom is still like that.
This is not an episode in the old “Twilight Zone” series; this is the faith we claim to follow. These are the words we treasure and study in worship and Bible study. They are not fantasy that cannot be applied to the “real” world; they are the world as the Real God created it to be and we must return to it.
The church must reach out to those suffering from the disasters of greed and welcome them to share in the abundance of God and what God can do through the church. Maybe we can increase the number of potluck dinners (communion in the time of Paul). Maybe we can make resources available such as allowing people looking for jobs to use the church’s computer to look for work and polish resumes. Maybe we can come together in small groups to pray and discuss our mistakes and work together in mutual accountability to avoid falling back into the dimension of greed. Maybe we can come back to being the Body of Christ and not just individual, single-celled organisms striving to wriggle around and hoping to survive. As the Body of Christ, not only can we thrive, we can help others to do so as well. DO we not say that all things are possible through God?