“We’ve got it so good that we feel guilty”. I’ve had this conversation repeatedly around Wotton over the last few weeks… We know that Gloucestershire has not been hit so hard by coronavirus as other places in the UK. There are plenty of WAMA volunteers to meet the needs of our community & even more good neighbours keeping an eye out for one another. Less commuting means more time with family at home and less money spent on fuel. Even at the height of the lockdown we could take our daily exercise in beautiful surroundings. Some of us are seeing more of our distant friends families than we normally do by using new social media platforms. We know this crisis is really tough for people living in Tower Hamlets and will be worse still for refugees in Cox’s Bazar, but lots of us are doing better than OK, so we feel guilty. I don’t believe God wants us to feel guilty.
Because he wants us to be blessed. The bible says that every good thing comes from God. It celebrates life on this earth, in these bodies. Wine, bread, fruit, sex, marriage, family, community, celebrations, health, prosperity: all explicitly stated to be gifts from a good God, all to be enjoyed with thanks to the creator. Don’t feel guilty; chill out. Enjoy the sunshine and the extra time you’ve saved by not commuting. Ride those dry trails. Finally get the garden in order. And be thankful.
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. Psalm 104:14-15
He also wants us to be generous. We are blessed so that we can be a blessing. This is a repeated biblical theme. Abram is chosen to be blessed and to be a blessing to all peoples. Ancient Israel is chosen to be a light to the nations. Jesus tells us to love as we have been loved, to give mercy as it has been given to us, to forgive as we have been forgiven. The New Testament letters tell us to give just as generously as we have received. New Testament generosity is born of the radical self-giving love of Jesus. Not a grudging scrambling for leftover change for the charity pot, but a planned and systemic personal overflow of God’s blessing in our lives. John Wesley, the great 18th century preacher preached a sermon entitled ‘on the use of money’. The key points were: gain all you can, save all you can, give all you can. Wesley famously lived this out. In 1731 he worked out he could live on £28 per year. He continued to do this until he died in 1791 – even when his annual income was £1400. Don’t feel guilty. Make plans to use your time and money to support others less fortunate than yourselves… and then do it.
Command those who are rich in this present world … them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:17-18
Embarassment about our prosperity and vigilance for something to say sorry for are British traits. They’re not Christian traits though. We have got so much going for us in Wotton, but that’s nothing we need to apologise for. Let’s enjoy what we’ve been given and use our time and resources to bless others as we have been blessed.