I've blogged before about the issue of money, and how our behaviour regarding money is in some ways a much more pressing christian and biblical issue than many of the other things we waste our time squabbling about. Wealth and greed got a pretty bad press in the gospels and Jesus himself seemed to live a pretty hand to mouth life and advised us all to have no care for the morrow - which one might retort is fine for someone who can turn water into wine and feed five thousand out of a few loaves and fishes :) Speaking of living hand to mouth, I was rather intrigued by the post Living without money from the Life and Faith blog. A quick google soon revealed that we have our own British versions of Daniel Suelo (see below), there are a surprising amount of people who live without money. I suppose most of them are called "homeless", "tramps" or "down and outs" or "travellers" and attract pity or contempt in varying degrees. I wonder is it just when it is a presented as a radical statement that the whole thing takes on a different perspective and we become rather reverential?
I am offering the experiences or experiment recounted above as interesting. I think they speak to our deepest fears about our basic survival and how our needs might be met. I am not sure that otherwise it says anything that worthwhile, nor that it is particularly laudable. It would not be realistic for most of us to opt out of society this way and, in any case, I cannot see that scavenging from supermarket skips is living independently from society (although I do deplore our stupid wasteful culture of must have, throwaway and best before dates.)
Most of us are living with less security in terms of jobs and finances than we have ever faced before. There is anxiety about how best to create economic recovery and anger about austerity measures as evidenced by the trouncing of the Coalition in the local elections (unless the anger is all about gay marriage as Anglican Mainstream seem to believe...) I am not sure that Labour should be celebrating their gains across the country because it doesn't seem that they have done that much to offer any viable alternatives and only one in three actually voted. Apathy, fear and anger , no real choice and no convincing solutions- it is a potentially disastrous combination.
I have been speaking all week to people who are worried, fearful and angry about their circumstances and the future. There has been some hopelessness as well. I wonder what message the Jesus who lived hand to mouth brings to our present political, social and economic climate? Well, I don't think that we are suppose to live in a caravan and forage from skips, but we are perhaps to remember to trust in God and to have other things at the centre of our lives than our personal security, hard as that may be. The most important message though is for those who do still have - a message not to hang on to every scrap but rather to give generously to others. The early church did this, we are told in Acts that:
"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had."
If none of us had money as a central concern in our lives and if we were all prepared to share with each other, money and lack of it would not be a problem.