Sunday Shorts are a brief rewind of Kaleo's weekly gatherings intended to equip the kommunity to live into what we're exploring together throughout the week.
X: TEN WORDS FOR THE CONTRAST COMMUNITY [PART EIGHT]
You shall not steal.
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
Why do thieves steal?
What is the impact on the thief?
What is the impact on the victim?
ABSTRACT NOUNS, OUR CONVERSATION ABOUT STEALING & MOVING TOWARDS GENEROSITY
An abstract noun is defined as a noun denoting an idea, quality, or state rather than a concrete object. During our discussion about this specific liberating word found in The Ten Commandments, Holly asked us to consider not only the tangible examples of stealing that we are all too familiar with, but also the following. "...can we steal time [from someone] through procrastination? How about workaholism? How about drinking too much and being emotionally absent? How about the love affair with your technology? Can you steal someone’s innocence? What about trust? How about self-respect?"
From there she asked "can [you] steal what you already own?" and led us into considering our posture and practices related to possessions and consumption. "If you were to look in your pantry tonight, would you have enough food for dinner? How about dinner tomorrow? If a storm blew through and stores were closed for a week, could your family survive on what you have at home? Most of us could say yes - we may be down to eating stewed tomatoes and fruit snacks by the end of the week, but we would not starve. We have been blessed with abundance. If you were to look in your closet tonight, do you notice you have clothes to wear tomorrow? Clothes for different occasions? Temperatures? Do you have any clothes with tags still intact? What about personal items? More than one pair of socks? Shoes? We have been blessed with abundance. The Gospel of Luke, chapter 3 tells an account of John the Baptist, preaching to the crowds and preparing the way for Jesus to come. As people came to be baptized he reminded them that people of faith must have actions in life that line up with their new way of faith: 'The crowd asked, “What should we do?” John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry. [Luke 3:10-11]”'
"If 1 Corinthians 10:26 tells us that everything in the earth belongs to the Lord, we are stewards of his provisions. If we have more than we need and others are going without, does that constitute as stealing? Acts 4 recalls a beautiful time in the early church when all of the believers took care of each other. Open handed care. 4:32-34 reads: 'All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own but they shared everything they had… There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.' What would that be like? To live with such open hands that feeding and clothing our neighbors would be as second nature as handing someone a napkin at a restaurant. No second thought. Just here you go. Does withholding our possessions when we know there is a need count as stealing?"
"Have we ever considered the cost of some of our typical goods? ...I was reading about a factory in China in which working conditions were so poor. Wages were deplorable, conditions were unsanitary and hours were punishing. Conditions were so terrible that during their single 15-minute break some workers began committing suicide by jumping off the roof. The problem of suicide became so prevalent in this particular factory that safety nets were hung from the roof and new employees had to sign a clause their families would not seek damages if their chose to take their own lives. That is a very high cost for the fabric that makes my t-shirt."
"Often times the work to make my everyday items is produced by slaves. Sadly, in many parts of the world, orphans and families who cannot afford to raise their children sell them into slavery. One area with particularly high demands for slave labor is the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC. This country was formerly known as Zaire. If you need a place to pray for, that God’s kingdom would come soon, it would be for the people of the DRC. I won’t go into the politics, corruption and horrors faced there, but will touch briefly on slavery. The DRC is located in central Africa and is rich with natural resources. Diamonds, copper, gold, tin, and oil are rich in this place. But the greatest demand is for a material known as Coltan. Coltan is a raw material that is used to make our smartphones. Children as young as seven are working as slaves in these mines. There's no safety equipment and they use primitive tools to mine the materials. Their lives often end at a young age due to injury or illness. Just so we can get the latest whiz-bang device. Our needless addictions... Is it okay to depend on slave labor to make my life easier? Is the cost of human life worth modern day convenience? Let’s not forget, the Ten Commandments were written to slaves... You shall not steal."
SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH ALL OF THIS?
"In the book of Ephesians, Paul beautifully addresses what we should do as thieves. He says in 4:28 'Anyone who has been stealing must no longer steal, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.' We are called to make it right. Not to be locked away in jail. Not to be publicly reprimanded. But to use our own hands to help those in need.
Let’s look at a few ideas as we go and make it right.
First, if you are stuck in a pattern where you are currently taking money or possessions that are not your own, I just challenge you to get help. It is slavery. There are people being directly impacted and wounded, and you are one of them. You were made for freedom. I pray that you would seek help and make restitution.
Next, I would challenge you to look back on your notes to see what you wrote about the intangible ways that you may be stealing from yourself or those around you [we took time to do this during the gathering]. The topic for tonight is moving from theft to generosity. If you wrote something down, like you are stealing time, what small change can you make this week to move into generosity and restitution? If you are stealing trust, how can you make that right? If you are stealing ideas, how can you make that right. I pray you will take some time to ask God to speak directly to you. If you aren’t sure if you’re in a situation where you may be stealing, ask yourself these questions: What is my motive? Am I doing it in secret? Do I justify my actions? How do I feel afterward? Are others negatively impacted by this choice?
Finally, we live in a global economy. Even if we wanted to, we cannot avoid coming into contact with goods produced by slaves or those who are working in inhumane conditions. However, I have a few ideas for you to reflect on your impact and perhaps try to make a small change in your current lifestyle choices: Take good care of your stuff! Make it last! Think twice before jumping in line for the latest and greatest tech. Look into fair trade products, like coffee and chocolate, etc. Consider second-hand shopping, thrift stores, Craigslist, swap with friends. And check out slaveryfootprint.org.
...Jesus was crucified between thieves. He took his dying breath in the company of those who stole. But let us not forget his words: 'But the other criminal rebuked. “Don’t you fear God?” he said “For you are under the same sentence.” We are punished justly for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said,” Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, this day you will be with me in paradise. [Luke 23:40-43]”'
Come now, with open hands, and receive the freedom that is yours in Christ."