This is not a post about the kind of guilt that we feel when we commit sin. I would like to post on that sometime…but not today. Today I want to write about the guilt that we feel because we live in the 21st century, or in America, or in a middle class family, or in a decent house. I felt it when I was in Guatemala, I felt it camping a few weeks ago, I feel it when I read about hardships of centuries past. When I experience ‘throwback’ moments, I might start to feel guilty that I can take a hot shower every day, or sleep in a supportive bed all night under just the right amount of bedding in just the right room temperature. I might feel guilty that I have food to eat-lots of it and in large varieties. I might feel guilty that I can afford a car and gas and time to take a few vacations. I might feel guilty that I have multiple outfits and a way to wash them in a machine that requires absolutely no effort on my part. In addition to this, I can set timers to cook, water the yard, and wash the dishes-all in my absence. I can turn on a tap and drink the running water right from my own kitchen sink…or bathroom sink…or garage sink. Multiple sinks in one house all with sanitized, running water. I can flush my waste directly into a completely enclosed city sanitation system. I don’t have to go to bed when the sun goes down because I have cheap artificial lighting that allows me to stay up and continue my day as long as I would like to. I can instant message friends and family on wireless technology or I can get instant access to just about any information that I could possibly want. I can fire off a blog post right now and it can be read by people from all over the world! On top of all of this, I have a knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can make saving covenants with my Father that will position me to be protected in the coming onslaught. If I put myself up against my fellow Earthians past and present, I could easily fall prey to a guilt cycle that dead ends at the question:
Why do I have so many of the privileges of the 21st century while lots of other folks-just as good as me-wallow in poverty or third-world conditions or without the knowledge of the Truth?
This kind of guilt is not easily assuaged without some Gospel understanding
and the underlying principle is this:
the privileges that I enjoy do not come without a price tag.
For of him unto whom much is given much is required;
and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
All of a sudden, my guilt has a place to pull me-into gratitude and then into action. (But I have another post to write about being guilted into gratitude…it’s not a very high level of gratitude, is it?) According to the principle taught above, I will be held responsible for what I did with the time that all of these modern-day conveniences allowed me, all of the energy that they saved me, the health that they promoted, the opportunities they generated. Yes, I may enjoy many privileges but I can’t stop there; I am under Godly mandate to figure out what He needs me to do with the extra time, energy, emotions, health, and money that flow as a result of His blessings. What is required? Where does He need me today? Who is my brother? What am I doing with my time? With what I have and what I know, how can I build the Kingdom? Am I actually pausing to enjoy the blessings in my life? I have responsibility to the Giver of my blessings. I have found that this is not as easy as it sounds. Being immersed in blessings, I grow accustomed to it. Now they are not really blessings, they are must-haves, givens, assumptions and I need ADDITIONAL blessings to recognize that I am being blessed. For me, it takes words like “require” (or trips to Guatemala or to the ER or to a funeral) to kick me out of my ridiculous orbit and remember that God is boosting me up in great hopes that I am going to help Him out. I am not here on Planet Earth to take as many hot showers as possible; I am here to find my way back to my Father and to take as many of His children with me as I can.
Now that job is going to take some time and energy and emotion and….thank goodness for washing machines….