Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Waking Up to Right Use of Resources


Doom to the one making evil gain for his own house, for putting his own nest up high, for delivering himself from the grasp of calamity.

                                                                                                     Habakkuk 2:9

 Habakkuk was one of the texts for our weekly morning prayer service this week. While not a book I read often, this particular verse stood out to me that morning, and convicted me. How often am I concerned about making myself safe, putting my own nest up high, and not doing enough to make things safe for others? I expect that most of us able to read this post do what we can to keep ourselves secure—physically and financially. There is nothing wrong with that except when we stop at our own safety and security and fail to work to make the same provision for others in our world.

 The Common English translation of Habakkuk 2:13 says this: Peoples grow weary from making just enough fire. That seems to reinforce verse 9. We make just enough “fire” for ourselves, and fail to make a fire big enough to provide warmth to others. That we do so without any compunction or guilt says that we’ve forgotten that we are all interconnected. This is something I continue to struggle with in my life—how much provision do I need for myself, and what of my resources should I share with others?

 I don’t recall when I first read this quote by St. Basil the Great, who lived from 329-379, but I do know that when I read it, I was convicted, and I continue to be convicted by it:

When someone steals another’s clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.

 Reading this quote for the first time was an awakening moment for me. It was another of the experiences that reshaped my notion of what faithful discipleship looks like. It’s pretty amazing that Basil lived in the 300’s, not in the materialistic culture of the United States! In the same way, Habakkuk speaks out against those who take care of themselves while others suffer. Throughout time, we show ourselves to be selfish, self-absorbed residents of the planet.

 I could just shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s just the way it is.” But doing that would not be faithful to the one who gave his life because of limitless love.

 I believe that when we make Christianity a morality show, we often do so in order to not face our own greed and selfishness. In the well-known story Jesus tells in Matthew 25, the question that separates sheep from goats has nothing to do with personal morality. Rather it is about caring for others. To fail to share what we have with others, according to Basil, makes us a thief. May we struggle with how to make right use of our resources, and may we not numb ourselves to the needs of others that we can meet.


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Another Waking Up Experience

A couple of weeks ago I shared a post about one way I had awakened to a different way to be a follower of Christ. You can read it here. This week I'm sharing a video post made for my church. It speaks of another way I have awakened.