Why do we have so much… and they have so little?

During this past weekend, I endured 30 hours of not eating with a group of high school and junior high students.  The event started on Friday afternoon after lunch and continued until the following Saturday evening.  During preparation for the event, one of the adult leaders for the weekend, who is also the pastor of the local Lutheran Church, suggested having prayer stations after our first session.  These stations would focus on different aspects of our lives that we often take for granted, including food, water, clothing, shelter, fire (meaning heat), money, and then the stations would end with a surrender and praise station at the cross.  Hopefully this last station would remind them of the most important thing: Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us.

On that Friday evening, I was excited about these stations. The adult leaders for the event were supposed to spread out to the stations and discuss with kids the questions at each station as well as anything else that might come up in the conversation.  I happened to be assigned to the clothing station, and as students came and went, filling out the packet of scriptures and questions, I considered how I might feel if I were their age and I was given a packet of papers that I needed to look through and respond to.   I realized suddenly how much like homework that this activity had become for the students, so I began to ask them about it.  Several of the students said that it did feel like homework, while other said that it didn’t.  This question became an easy avenue into their thinking as well as a way to ask more questions.

During one of these conversations, a girl talked a little bit about literature circles in her reading class and how she contributes a lot to the conversation during each week of reading her group’s novel.  Her group happened to be reading the Phantom of the Opera, and she really liked the story, so I asked her if she contributed at confirmation like she contributed in class.  I was curious if she thought about scripture like she thought of other literature.  I was fascinated to find out that she did not think of scripture in any similar way, nor did she contribute much in her confirmation class.  I asked her why she did not, and she said that scripture is not like other books that she reads.

In literature circles, she can talk about her feelings and responses to what’s going on in the story, but when she reads scripture, she often has many questions or completely does not understand it, which leads her to think that someone has to teach her in order for her to begin to understand it.  Then I asked her what question about scripture or life had she been thinking about a lot lately, and in response to the statistics and facts about poverty around the world that she had heard in the first session, she said that she does not understand why she has so much and they have so little.  She was also unsure of what she could do because she had little money or power to change the lives of people across the world or even in her own community.  I was blown away by the depth of her question, but I was excited to hear that she had begun to think about it.

So now, I pose that question to you.  Why do we have so much and they have so little?  Is it because that’s the way that it is supposed to be?  Is it because “we will always have the poor with us” as Jesus says in the gospels?  Are we blessed so that we can bless others, or are we free to use our blessings in whatever manner available to us?  What does God require of us as his followers when it comes to the greatness of our riches and blessings?  Whose job is it to try and help those who are suffering from famine, dirty water, lack of sanitary conditions or shelter, or even lack of family or support?  How do we respond to the millions upon millions of people who are starving today? 

Finally, what does our response to this question say about us?  What does our response say about who God is?  Let us constantly be thinking and considering the words that we say and what they might be telling others about God.

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~ by randallkoehler on May 5, 2011.

2 Responses to “Why do we have so much… and they have so little?”

  1. So.. It’s interesting that this has been brought up because I have been thinking about this a lot and comtemplating what life would be like without all that I have. It has even crossed my mind that maybe I should just leave and live with the Amish for a while so that I could see what life could be like without having everything just handed to me. Of course, everyone told me I was weird and that I wouldn’t make it. haha Anyways, maybe a month or so ago I was reading my Bible, and I came across Luke 12:48, which says “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” This sentence really stuck out to me, and it really got me thinking about all my blessings and all I have and how I really haven’t done much with any of it. In fact, I like to complain about life. This passage made me realize that I have been given a lot and that I can’t just sit around and wallow in it. God expects me to do something with it, whether it be reaching out and helping someone less fortunate than me or selling everything and giving the money to those who need it. I don’t know, but what I do know is that I can’t play the ignorance card anymore because He has told me! I don’t know if this does anything or means anything to anyone else, but I thought I would share it because it’s what came to mind as I was reading this. Right now I’m just kind of trying to see what exactly God has in mind.

  2. Great thoughts. I hadn’t read this passage in this light before. That makes a lot of sense. A really simple example of this is the covenant that God created with the Israelites. He said in Genesis to Abraham that he would bless him, but Abraham was not supposed to hoard his blessing or withhold it for some future catastrophe in which he might need it. He was to bless others with all of the blessings that God had given him because God had given him more than he needed.

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