Wealth Equals Debt

20 Jun
Read the following article this week:
“In what local authorities are calling a “near tragedy,” Charles Wentworth, a 17-year-old senior student and member of the affluent Wentworth family, came perilously close to suffering a consequence resulting from his own wrongdoing Saturday.
 
Wentworth, reportedly ignoring the protests of his classmates, got behind the wheel of his turbocharged Supra 2000GT after consuming half the contents of a bottle of Goldschläger at a friend’s party. While driving westbound on Route 27, a disoriented Wentworth drifted across two lanes of traffic and collided with a minivan carrying a family of four, bringing the teen face-to-face with a potentially life-altering lesson.
 
Wentworth escaped unscathed and unpunished, however, when his airbags deployed and a team of high-powered attorneys rushed to the scene and rescued him from the brink of personal responsibility.
 
“Amazingly, Mr. Wentworth did not experience a single repercussion for consuming alcohol under age or operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and is furthermore completely unaware that he did anything wrong,” local police chief Marvin Taylor said. “He is a very lucky boy.”
 
“If he had been driving just 5 mph faster, or if his parents hadn’t had the influence to keep the matter out of court and the endless financial resources to lease a car of the exact same make and model to prevent him from having to face even the relatively trivial humiliation of being taunted by his peers for driving a slightly less expensive vehicle—my God, who knows what could have happened?” Taylor added. “He could have died or, worse, been held accountable for his actions.”
 
Now this is obviously satire as it comes from The Onion, a satirical magazine, yet it is an almost accurate picture of the society in which we live. Entitlement is the buzzword, spoken or unspoken, witnessed in the actions, words and lifestyles of many modern people.
 
Not us of course. We would not dare to think like that. Or would we?
 
Paul writes to the Galatians to remind them of who they are, heirs of God’s promise to Abraham. It is a reminder for them not to lose sight of who they are in the midst of a chaotic and adverse world, a world in which they are persecuted and run the risk of becoming embroiled in the lifestyle and philosophy pressing in on them.
 
One could read Pauls statement as the Galatians being entitled to their inheritance. It is theirs. It belongs to them.
 
Yet it is also a reminder of the obligations that goes with their position – to live in such a way as to always give a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to God. To turn the totality of life towards God and away from any sense of self as the centre of existence. To recognise in our worship and living, God as the source of all that exists and that we possess and that we are totally reliant on God for our life and existence.
 
WEH Stanner suggests aboriginal spirituality is built on this deep sense of relationship with the Creator Being in exactly the same way the ancient Hebrews were. Causality belongs to God and we are to respond to it with the totality of our being. Modern man lives by the myth that he/she has had some influence on their existence. That somehow each of us is responsible for where we are in life and therefore are entitled to make the decisions about what we do with it.
 
Such responsibility is indeed too much responsibility if we think about. If we are indeed fully responsible for who and where we are we are also responsible totally for the impact we have had on self, others and the world. No wonder people collapse under such responsibility.
Elizabeth Farrell writing in the Sydney Morning Herald states it plainly:
“Wealth isn’t really wealth. It’s really debt.
Everything we have, from jobs to bodies to microchips, we take from the earth. But – and here’s the thing – it’s not a gift, it’s a loan. Everything must be repaid. The ancients knew this, constantly making down payments via death and sacrifice. But for us – more inclined to sacrifice nature than sacrifice to her – the bigger the pile, the greater the debt.” 
Recognising our true place as heirs of the promises of God we can commit ourselves to living a life of praise and thanksgiving for we understand who is the source of our being and our existence. All that we have including our success and failures, wealth and poverty, health and sickness are covered by the promises of God that are our inheritance.
 
From this position we are able to commit all we have to God with fear, without the prospect of there never being enough for us. The Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota Environmental Stewardship Commission echoes the words of Paul by claiming: “In the wake of Christmas, then, the household of faith is freed from its self-preoccupations as it is sent forth into the world to participate in that grand process by which God works throughout Creation toward the energetic ‘fullness of time.’
 
On this stewardship Sunday we will take time to consider what the participation in the inheritance that is ours may look like. What will be my weekly gift, what roles and tasks will take on, how will I work within this parish to further the kingdom of God? How will my decisions indeed be a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving?
 

While Paul laid down the challenge, it was up to the Galatians to live it out.  The same goes for each of us today. The challenge s God’s, the response is ours. 

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