“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
Like Joseph, who rebelled against his father’s wish to see his second born son become greater than the first-born, we often falsely believe we know the right and proper order of the world. Born into the “First World,” many of us believe we have the right to our lives of abundance. Our privileged status in the world gives us claim to a greater portion. Though many of us dare not speak these words aloud, our actions reflect this belief. We squander the things we own; knowing that there will always be more and forgetful of those whose portion grows smaller. We often fail to see our connection to the whole, believing instead that we are solitary beings, only responsible for ourselves. Yet, if we think we are entitled to our portion, we have failed to hear God’s challenge to live differently in the world.
Rather than being liberated by God’s promise of eternal life as read in John 6, we have become enslaved to our consumerist lifestyles. Though we may long for stability, for things that do not perish, we settle for the perishable. Even things that have stood the test of time are discarded in favor of the new and fashionable. Fooled by our culture into believing nothing is everlasting, we secretly do not believe that God’s life, love, and grace are sustaining. Christ’s promise to be “living bread” is lost on those of us who rarely feel the real pangs of hunger.
Binding ourselves to continual death rather than life, we enslave the rest of creation as well. Our consumptive practices are cause for the whole creation to cry out against us. Paul reminds us that creation is groaning, longing to be free from the bondage we have enslaved it to. Unaware of our place within creation and oblivious to our responsibility for others, we fail to hear God’s call to justice.
As global markets expand, we are reminded again and again that we are interconnected, interdependent beings. Our (unearned) privilege in the web of creation should entice us toward contemplative lifestyles and thoughtful action. No more entitled, no more blessed, no more righteous, we must learn to find our place within this web, striving for peace and justice in the whole.
- Becoming prayerfully aware of the often taken-for-granted resources in your life. For example, thank God for water each time you turn on a facet and then pray that soon all people will have clean water.
- Count the number of disposable objects you use in your daily life (i.e. water bottles, coffee cups, paper towels, soap dispensers). Consider whether you can opt instead for more durable, sustainable objects.
- At your next trip to the grocery or convenience store, buy goods that are the least “packaged” or have used ecologically friendly packaging (paper, cotton, or glass as opposed to plastic)
- Consider donating to TVA’s Green Power switch, helping Tennessee raise funds to become more energy efficient through renewable energy sources.
Lord, create in us hearts that thirst for justice and hunger for peace. Remind us daily of our part in your web of creation and keep us mindfully aware of our tendencies toward isolationism and individualism. Allow us to perceive the groaning creation and create in us hearts that groan with others. Help us to hold onto the things that give life, and let go of the things that bring death to us and to others. Allow us wait patiently for your grace and yet live for your Kingdom now. Amen.