There is a famous proverb that says, “Man proposes, God disposes.” The year 2020 is far spent. We are in June, and six months have just gone by like they never existed. The world is packed with so much uncertainty, and for the first time in decades, humankind has been rendered helpless – unable to direct the course of its destiny. As of December last year, people were eager to dump 2019 and welcome 2020 with open arms, hoping the worst of the previous year will never be re-lived. Individuals, organizations, and governments rolled out plans for 2020 in great anticipation of good tidings to come. The optimism was well placed. After all, there were ample socio-economic indicators to support this verve. Several advancements in technology, medicine and somewhat stable economies were a few justifiers. Then all of a sudden, ‘someone’ hit the pause button and forced all to re-evaluate what was considered essential to having a good life.
World culture teaches us to get a good education, work hard, or in the converse circumvent the system to acquire the means to live a life that is considered fulfilling by societal standards. The pressure to compete and the greed that drives a particular lifestyle has done so much damage to the human race that even Christians now find it difficult and painful too, to deny themselves certain comforts. They have filled their souls with so much tangible and intangible wealth that impede their ability to carry out the greatest commandment of all, which is to love God with all their heart, soul and mind. For to love and focus on God is to declutter one’s soul, and minimize worldly acquisitions. To do the opposite will be to travel heavy, in which case, the journey of life then becomes tedious and meaningless. The Bible puts it succinctly, thus; “better one handful with tranquility, than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6). This is why it is impossible to love God and mammon at the same time, genuinely. They just don’t go together.
Jesus traveled widely, sharing the good news, healing the sick and serving others. Yet there is no record of him acquiring significant assets to make this happen. The Son of the Almighty God, who had the opportunity to gain the entire universe while on earth, demonstrated through His way of life that being frugal and living simply is the greatest enabler of evangelism and the best pathway to eternal riches. He told everyone that cared to listen at the Sermon on the Mount that undue possessions here on earth are temporal and add little.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mathew 6:19-21). The advice is critical not just because it addresses tangible assets but that it applies to everyday life and what we consider essential in terms of needs or wants.
The pandemic has allowed us the opportunity to rethink our lifestyles. It has forced our hands to do away with non-essentials and thrown up difficult questions with revealing answers. Do we really need to go to the salon every week? Do we really need that expensive car, house, or jewelry? How about the large amount of food we buy and are unable to consume? The clothes, shoes and bags that fill our closets and unworn for many months? As a country, do we really need to go to war? Do we need to exploit and abuse mother earth the way we’ve carried on for centuries? As a Church, do we really need that expensive building? Of what use is racism and what value does it add to society? Do we need to hate one another?
The forced lockdown and social distancing brought about by the coronavirus has made a good number of us better answer these questions and more. That money, material acquisition and continued quest for power do not satisfy but instead, force us to keep reaching out for more. Unfortunately, there are many unknowns about the virus. It is mutating and the scientific community has sleepless nights figuring out what might be ahead. Even after a vaccine is found, there’s no guarantee that another strain will not emerge. One thing that is agreed upon, however, is that Covid-19 is complex and our world as we know it has changed forever. With this realization, there may be no need to seek a return to a life of waste, greed and misplaced priorities but instead focus on leading a simple lifestyle that pleases God and guarantees heavenly treasures.