There is enough to go round
Give careful thought to your ways. Haggai 1:5
Give careful thought to your ways. Haggai 1:7
This is where we left off yesterday.
And I haven’t been able to let it lie. I keep coming back to it in my mind. I feel like there’s more to say here, so I’m going to try and make sense of the jumbled thoughts in my head and hopefully write something coherent and maybe even challenging.
Let me know how I do!
When I was at Greenbelt last weekend, at a session that came to focus on social action, many in that tent were bemoaning the fact that so many people are apathetic about what’s going on in the world. Calls to action seem to fall on deaf ears. And then one lone voice spoke out for those who are not apathetic, but who simply do not have the time and the energy to do anything more than survive. These are the people living with such extreme poverty that they’re having to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet; the people drowning in incomprehensible paperwork to get the financial support that they so desperately need; the people living in such debt that their homes are under threat; those who are lonely, scared, vulnerable, dispossessed, disempowered.
We think everyone is just like us and they are not.
We judge everyone as if they were us and they’re not.
For a growing number in our country, life is all about survival. Getting through this day. And then the next day and the next and the next. With no hope that things are ever going to get any better.
I can’t judge because I haven’t been there. I don’t know what it’s like. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it is.
Would I be able to lift my eyes and look around me and look for spiritual meaning and connection in my life if all my energies were caught up in meeting the most basic of needs for myself and my family?
And what about the people all over the world whose basic needs are not being met? Those who are hungry, who have no safe place to sleep, who have to work in the most dangerous conditions.
I grew up in a Christian environment which preached that social action was not the role of the church. Our job was to tell people about Jesus. But how can people hear a message about Jesus when their stomachs are rumbling and they’re cold and frightened and in physical pain?
Jesus got this. He met people where they were at. He fed the hungry and healed the sick. He did that first. And then he spoke to them. We’re so narrow in how we think about evangelism sometimes. We put on fancy services and just expect people to come. We don’t make any attempt to find out what they need and how we can support them. We don’t go to them. We expect them to come to us.
Which brings me back to social action and the apathetic. Because yes, those people were right. There are plenty of people who are apathetic about the world in which they live. Some genuinely do need the time and energy to focus on just getting through each day, but for most of us, that is no excuse. The world does not need to be this way. We can play our part in making the world a better place.
There is enough to go round. I firmly believe that. There is no need for anyone in the world to be suffering from hunger or the effects of poverty. Of course, that would involve sharing on a global scale, redistribution of resources. Some of us would have to learn to go without – not to go without the necessities of life though, only the excesses.
There’s this thing called the scarcity mindset. I only came across it recently. It’s when you hold the belief that there is not enough to go round. You live in fear that you will run out of what you need. You’re driven to accumulate more and more, just in case. Life is a competition, survival of the fittest and you have to make sure that you are always near the top of the pile. It’s exhausting living that way. It takes up all of your time and energy and resources. You can’t afford to be generous. You hold tightly onto what you have.
There’s no time for fun and connection and relaxation and notions like spirituality and connection with God. Life is a treadmill.
And then there’s the mindset of abundance. We live in a wonderful world overflowing with wonderful things. We have enough. There is enough. Life overflows with opportunity and gratitude. We can share. We can celebrate with others when life goes well for them. We can help and support others when they need it. We can lift our eyes from focusing on what we do not yet have and remember the one who made it all.
We can get so caught up in striving for more, that we lose sight of the enough that we already have.
This is the situation the people of Judah were in. That’s why God sent his messenger Haggai to speak to them. They’d come back out of exile and had to focus first of all on rebuilding their lives, but they’d become so focused on building better and better lives that they had lost sight of their Creator, the one true God.
Haggai was prompting them to give careful thought to their ways.
I’m challenging each one of us to do the same.