22 October 2009

Twin Defeats: Power and Poverty

Have you ever felt like you were trapped? And, you could not easily define what you were trapped by? You likely could identify things you felt hindered your happiness - but you were not totally free?
We are often trapped, but it is usually not by what we think it is. Our identification processes are so skewed by the time we try to struggle free, we are not enabled to figure out what is wrong. Usually we are trapped by a 'snare'  - a snare is an unforeseen trap which catches us unaware.  We are "rabbit trailed" down the course of our daily lives by distractions and end up enmeshed with the machinery of life.  Then once enmeshed, we realize we have burdens which  we'd once thought we had relieved ourselves of. Living in light of eternity had released us from those trivialities and loads which others (who believe do not believe in God)  focus solely on.
What behaviors normally follow this? Our worst - and most prevalent - reaction is to turn to the moralistic or therapeutic "Christianity" for our solution. We grapple with principles, try to find the 'reason' for our dysfunction - clinging to a spartan systematic theology - which is really intellectualism and has no resemblance to Christianity. Or, we run for therapeutic resuscitation, longing for old feelings of warmth and generosity (for we remember them), we bow at the altar of Good Feeling and Hope in Tomorrow and fling away any negativism (unless it is to pinpoint our current dysfunction).
But we've not yet determined what happened that made us go so far  off course to begin with. Never mind that we went down the wrong path. Unless you identify the reason for your state, you'll never pinpoint the accurate cure.
 Why do we fall into snares like that?  Why do we so easily fall into states of behaving and speaking and thinking like everyone else? We got suckered into the great lie that we "must be afraid"  If you are afraid of the unknown, then your life is always in turmoil.  So, we mistakenly turn to believing that the salve for fear is wealth and prestige.  Wealth and power speak powerfully into our lives.  This is a sign of a very basic understanding of the resources of the Creator God: to whom all wealth and power belong. Too bad we think it should belong to Man (or me!).
Jesus Christ said it is difficult for a rich man to enter enter the Kingdom of God. Some interpret this as mean-spirited. He has been accused of being mean-spirited because of hard statements like this. He has also been interpreted as saying that being "poor" is a virtue in itself. Both of these are too simplistic, and neither of them is addressing what the Lord Christ meant.
What Jesus is addressing is the problem within each of us and this is too difficult a truth for some people to believe. Jesus was speaking about the difficulty of overcoming the root cause of selfishness and, often, blind selfishess and self-adulation. The root cause is original Sin or "total depravity" And, much like the forces of aging, we are born in this state at birth, whether or not we choose to recognize it.
With regard to our physical bodies there is a parallel. Not one of us escapes aging and the deterioration that comes with it. Likewise, regarding great physical prowess, few of us are talented, trained and disciplined to be medal winners in the Olympics.
There is an obvious parallel with the battle against the old enemy within us: the desire to do what is right and the failing of that or doing of what is wrong: this is sin.
Jesus' warning was twofold: first, against the idea that wealth and power are signs of God's "blessing" and secondly, warning us against blindness and selfishness that are inevitable with the arrival of wealth and power.
What, then, are we to do? And how are we to think? Jesus Christ counsels us to remain focused ('single eye') on the Most High God. Here is Jesus' "straight talk" on this matter:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
- Jesus Christ in
Matthew, chapter 6, verses 19-24

  • Charity Johnson