Thursday, September 16, 2010

God and Wealth

All God’s Children was a post on this site a little over a year ago. It talked about the hope that a climate bill could be passed yet that fall before the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December, and talked about the reason Christians should be concerned about the passage of a climate bill or the chances of a significant agreement being reached at Copenhagen: the effects of the carbon that we as a wealthy nation produce will be for the most part be felt first and the worst by some of the poorest people in the world.

A year later, the United States Congress has still not passed a climate bill, and little progress was made at Copenhagen.  Last year’s hopes were not fulfilled.  One of the principal reasons Congress hasn't moved on climate legislation is that fear of immediate negative economic effects keeps us from seeing the long-term positive effects of climate legislation. Even people who understand the science and have concern for those who stand to suffer the soonest from climate change shy away from effective action if they think their own costs for energy or taxes might go up.

“You cannot serve God and wealth,” says Jesus at the end of this week’s Gospel lesson (Luke 16:1-13).   The lesson from Amos is similar: God sees people who observe the letter of the Law, but who care more for their own wealth than they do for the poor; they “trample on the needy”, selling them out for silver or even for a pair of sandals.

That post a year ago ended with this: “We have much to gain for ourselves by turning to new energy technologies and capping our carbon output, and, just as importantly, we have much to gain for the poorest people with whom we share the Earth.”  Our immediate economic concerns and fears keep us not only from caring enough about the poorest people in our world, but also from seeing where our choice to ignore climate change will leave us in the long-run.

A year from now, our Gospel text from Matthew 20 will end with Jesus saying, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” What will we be able to say next September about our consideration for our poorest brothers and sisters?

To see what Episcopal Relief and Development is doing to respond to the record flooding in Pakistan, click here. 

To donate to ERD’s relief efforts in Pakistan or other places affected by natural disasters, click here