In the first letter to Timothy (6:6-19) Paul talks about money, and wealth. ‘Naked you came into this world and naked will you leave it’, or words to that effect. Paul says that wealth and money are not the same and that while it is worth seeking wealth, it is counter-productive to seek money. If making money is your goal, you will never be satisfied, you will never have enough. Not only that, but you will ignore the real sources of wealth. In Paul’s view, bread on the table and shoes on your feet is enough. John Wesley took a similar view. Unlike most of us!
Last week, there was another Climate Strike, in which young and old in 100 countries around the world took to the streets to protest the use of money that wrecks the ecosystem. Google sponsored a conference in Sicily to discuss climate change. Two hundred of the rich and powerful from around the world attended. They came in 114 private jets and mainly slept off-shore in luxury yachts, each one specially sailed there using hundreds of gallons of diesel every hour. The subsistence farmer in Papua New Guinea would regard people driving cars to church with the same horror.
No, there are more satisfying things than money, and there are kinder ways of using it than burning fossil fuels. The most satisfying experiences usually involve other people and/or nature. Love features largely. As Shakespeare put it: Thy sweet love, remembered, such wealth brings that then I scorn to change my state with Kings.
Working together with other people in pursuit of what you consider to be a worthy goal takes some beating too. This is pleasure denied to people playing computer games or watching TV, and I seem to mix with some people who regard ticking countries off their bucket list as the height of ambition; yet who evidently find it unsatisfying because, however good their last destination, there are always places they still want to go to.
How can we escape the clutches of greed for yet more of this world’s resources. Some of the placards at the Climate Change rally were instructive: ‘There is no Planet B’ ‘March now or swim later’ ‘Sick of pollution’ ‘Cheap flights cost the Earth’ and my favourite ‘Make love not CO2’. We do need to put ethics above personal comfort, and it is difficult. I am conscious of using the resources at my disposal to make my life easier, instead of making other lives possible. By other lives, I have to include the lives of many species that are threatened by my continual quest for comfort.
What would Jesus do?