Psalm 24 is a reminder of whose our lives and our things are. “The earth is the Lord’s” we are told, and all the “fullness therein”. What a stark contrast this claim is to how we live our days. Our time is our own, our money and resources our possession. The hills and the mountains, the fields with their fruit (both of plants harvested from farms and also of resources like oil, iron, & uranium) are presented not as the Lord’s but this or that company’s.
We take the gifts God gives us and like toddlers at the play ground divvy them up, grasping after our tiny pieces saying “mine!”, and then wonder why so many struggle without enough to get by.
I recently was reading a science fiction series by Kim Stanley Robinson charting an imagined future where people of Earth settle Mars and are able to terraform it so that it can sustain life. In the series, one of the interesting ideas that Robinson imagines is what would happen if land was not something any person said they could own but only use and be held responsible for the ways in which they are stewards of it for others. In the series of books, Robinson imagines a society in which the land on which we live stops being considered the property of any one person, but a shared resource that is a gift for all. A starkly different society is envisioned which, though not perfect, does not privilege select few over the struggling masses. It ends up also leading toward a call for rights beyond speech, freedom of worship, to include the right to housing, right to meaningful work, right to meaningful healthcare since there is more than enough in the world we have to provide this for all if a few with power to not cling it tight to their breast saying “mine”.
That fascinating glimpse of a world in which the resources before us are not prizes in some game of Monopoly to be gobbled up but resources no one person or group can own is quite refreshing. It helps me imagine what it would look like to truly live as if this earth on which we stand is not ours, but the Lord’s. No wonder the Psalmist follows up this call to see all we have and all we are as not ours but God’s with a description of the type of person whose life choices make them ready to fully see God.
What type of person is this? A person with clean heart and hands, whose actions build up the common good not tear down others around them. It is a person who makes good pledges, and keeps them. At heart it is a person who lives recognizing in their actions our interconnectedness and the gift we are given to share in this life and this world.
I have to admit I’m not there. I may sit excited by imagining a world in which we learn to see what we have as all a part of a common good, where we learn to share who we are and what we have with our neighbors who struggle and are in need, but I have to admit too often I go through my days with blinders on, only thinking of me and mine. Yet the Scripture calls me to lift my head, look up, and truly begin to see others around me, truly see our connection, and truly begin to share of who I am with those about me.
When we do this, we truly can begin more and more to see the Lord of glory manifest for after all is not the place in which Jesus teaches that we can best encounter the Lord high and lifted up not our deep meditations, our acts of religious devotion, but the other. Whatever we do to the least of these our brothers and sisters we do to Christ. In their eyes and lives we see the life and eyes of God.
I’m not there yet, my friend. Where are you? Until I do arrive in that mindset, I will lift up my eye and open my heart. Let’s do that together.
Certainly not whistling Dixie here,
Your progressive redneck preacher,