Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Tag

‘Having Food and Clothes We are Content’

Somewhere, I can’t be bothered looking it up, Paul talks about being content with having food and clothes, but he does not mention shelter, a car, TV or a football team to support. This shows something, it shows he had nothing all to often and had ‘learned the secret of being content, Christ Jesus, his Lord.’ We are not like this.

After the second world war the UK was bankrupt, Europe was devastated and all was poverty. In the end the US Marshall plan (Marshall was one of America’s better men in my opinion) fed and reinstated Europe. His main aim may well have been to re-establish markets for American goods, but it was the only way to avoid disaster in Europe. During the fifties the world changed for the better as far as the continent was concerned. The Cold War may have hung over our heads but prosperity increased and so did the desire to forget wars and build a decent life. This reached a peak in the sixties when wealth in the UK grew so much that car use became quite common and luxury goods, running water and decent housing were accepted as par for the course. However during the seventies old attitudes, an abundance of wealth, and personal greed led to many conflicts in what was a rich nation. The eighties allowed wealth to develop under Thatcher’s love of the god Mammon, but society died. care for others was forgotten, the ‘service element’ was removed from utilities and now we pay the price. Price indeed! Higher prices, less public services, and many redundancies ‘revitalised’ badly run organisations. Some of the millions unemployed by her never worked again!

Wealth made us take riches for granted. We expected, and claimed to ‘deserve’ houses, hospitals, good pay, cars, foreign holidays and cheap abundance of food. A few coins into a charity box eased our conscience regarding the million starving to death world wide, ‘but hey, what could we do?’  Now we find life hard when debts rise and we can no longer fill the house with goods we never use, food we waste, (about a third of what is bought is thrown away!) yet we are never happy! Overweight, overdressed people, many of them Christians, complain about the price of fuel for their over large cars, whine that they cannot find the goods they ‘need’ cheap enough, and replace casually objects that are still working but merely ‘out of fashion.’ TV are adverts tell us how to be happy with what is in front of us. Often things we neither need or like, but if the stars have one, we ‘need’ one. Kids, especially at secondary school level, do this honestly and openly – they cannot afford to be different from the rest. Adults live like this, but by stealth, always justifying our Mammon worship and idolatry.

However this attitude is not found only in the west, it is in all societies. Achan took a robe and gold and silver dedicated to God, and suffered the consequences. One tribe in a mud hut will steal vessels and goods from another group of mud huts. It is of course not the goods nor the dwellings, it is not the lifestyles that produce such attitudes, it is the heart. Your heart and mine.

Being unemployed I can see how easily I wasted cash before, and how I now regret it. However, once employed, and money is filling my pockets, will I care for the hungry, be content with what I have? No, I doubt it. Needs arise, and soon greed overtakes need. The only answer is to be close to Jesus, who had no place to lay his head, and expect him to provide. Paul was rich, and sometimes poor. he worked at his mission and with his hands. He was content simply to rely on his God’s provision, a God who promised never to leave him. That way brings contentment, peace and all requirements to us. How funny that we read it daily, know it in our minds and hearts, and forget this when some glittering object is placed in front of us. The world, the flesh and the devil are a real pain!