12 April 2008

there's enough for everyone

Acts 2:42-47, one of the readings for tomorrow, gives us a picture of the early Jerusalem church: [42] They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. [43] Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. [44] All who believed were together and had all things in common; [45] they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. [46] Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, [47] praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

They "were together and had all things in common." That's not a resounding note of support for private ownership! It would seem that they're taking their lead from Jesus, who speaks in the Gospels about wealth as much as, if not more than, any other single topic. He recognizes both its power to do good and its power to enslave—its tendency to become an idol. We cross that line much more easily than we think.

As an American, I’ve grown up, living in and breathing an atmosphere in which the worship of money has been achieved like never before. So, I have to ask myself: do I serve God or mammon? Jesus says in Matthew 6:24 that we can’t serve both. If I think I’ve already made the choice to serve God—and if I don’t actively discipline myself to notice the trust in wealth rising up within me—then I am self-deceived. One very effective way of fighting the worship of money is by simply giving it away. It’s hard to imagine a more forceful way of driving a stake into the heart of riches. But even then, it's a battle fought more inwardly than outwardly.

I love the scene at the end of the movie, Hotel Rwanda (2004). (If you haven't seen it, don't worry if this is a spoiler! The movie is well worth watching anyway!) Don Cheadle plays Paul Rusesabegina, the hotel manager who gives shelter to about 1200 Rwandans during the 1994 genocide.

During the chaos, the two youngest daughters of Paul and his wife, Tatiana, go missing. Like so many others, they fear that they've been killed. Pat Archer, a Red Cross worker, tells them that she saw the girls at a refugee camp. So they get off the bus that would take them across the border into Tanzania. The family is reunited, and we see them walking down the road, after the bus has already left. Pat says to Paul, "They said that there wasn’t any room." Paul replies to her, "There's always room."

There's always room. There's more than enough. That's our response when we allow the Spirit to direct our best thinking and our best energies into making it happen.

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