Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Compound Interest and Love of Community

I heard some guy interviewing a group of religious people including a Catholic nun yesterday on the radio while I was driving. They were talking about the Pope's death and his model of graceful suffering.

At one point he concluded, "That's the best time to attract people to God. Who cares about God when you're 35 and healthy and have plenty of money in the bank?"

I agree that folks who are suffering have an acute sense of need for God, and that somebody who suffers gracefully can be a powerful witness to those who are suffering.

But I've always thought being 35 and healthy and with plenty of money was the best possible time to know God. It's true that lots of people that age and in that situation don't give a rip about God. What a shame.

I don't think the faith is fundamentally about enduring suffering. It's not about renouncing a love of material possessions or any of the other kinds of sacrifices people make in the pursuit of God either.

It's really about pro-actively loving your neighbor and loving God while putting your future in God's hands.

If that's true, what better time to be a lover of God and neighbor than when you're holding a flush hand. You may never have those kinds of resources at your disposal again.

Lots of folks that age seem to be worried about their careers and even preparing for their retirement when they could be lavishly spending their resources on their neighbors in a unique way that might not come again during their lifetimes.

The love of compound interest usually trumps love of community, even for the best of people.

Many of us imagine that our clever management of money--or the large inheritances which lots of people I know will receive--will somehow make a big difference for the Kingdom of God sometime in the future. I've seen so few examples of that kind of thing that I've begun to lose confidence in that whole line of thinking.

A lavishly generous person in their prime might be very encouraging. Or somebody who gives their entire inheritance away and joins the poor in relying on God for their security.

I'd guess both of those types of folks would be as inspiring as an older saint who meets death gracefully. Come to think of it, maybe all of 'em would qualify as examples of meeting death gracefully. Let 'em all increase.


Anonymous Greg said...

I think it is powerful to see someone with resources use them in love for God and neighbors, but how does one get to that point? Would you agree that for someone to give in such a way there needs to be in the process a "renouncing a love of material possessions" and other sacrifices?

Isn't that the reason that most people in that situation don't give a rip about God?

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Greg said... of the reasons. There are probably people with resources just waiting for someone to teach them that they are to use their resources to "make friends who will welcome them into eternal dwellings". They may not be stuck in a gollumistic greed for their mammon.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

He said gollumistic. Tight.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Wordcat said...

"Gollumistic?" That's good.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Your comment about suffering and sacrifice are especially helpful. Jesus himself quote the OT - "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice." How, then, does this - this pro-active neighbor love - work itself out practically? Especially in a day of such disperity between the suffering of many and the self-indulgence of a few? How do 'those in their prime' catch onto this good news?

8:43 PM  

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