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Archive for April, 2014

John_the_BaptistIn the book of Luke, John the Baptist is in the wilderness baptizing people and calling them to follow the path of repentance. The people were touched by his message and wanted to know what a real change in their life would look like. John responded by telling them that if they had two coats to give the other away and to do the same with their food.

John hits on a common theme that is found throughout the Gospels, the accumulation and hoarding of wealth and possessions is immoral. It is a pretty shocking thought in our western world, where the more that we are able to obtain is seen as being more blessed. However, the Gospels call us to a different road which is radically and uncomfortably different than the materialistic values we have come to accept.

Excess of goods is wrong for a number of reasons. For one, it causes us to take our eyes away from God and instead put our faith and hope in what we have obtained. We cannot have an excess of possessions without beginning to serve and even worship them. This is why studies have shown that overall the more wealth people have, the lower percentage they give away. Wealth has a way of creating a level of greed that we are unable to begin to comprehend.

Excess is also wrong because it means that one person has much more than they need, while another person does not have their basic needs met. On a personal and society level, we should be concerned that everyone has their needs of clothing, food, shelter, and health met. It is shameful for a society to have such excess of wealth and still have people who are barely struggling to get by. Such a society reflects one that has not taken the real message of repentance seriously.

 

This is a truth that we are so unwilling to accept because it goes against everything that is taught to us in our capitalistic culture. What I have earned is mine, and I deserve it. However, that is not the message that John taught, neither is it the message that Jesus taught. They taught that in order for us to really follow the message of the Kingdom of God we have to renounce excess and live a life where those without are granted true societal justice.

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