Saturday, June 18, 2011

Plants for Sale

I passed a house yesterday with a sign our front reading "Plants for Sale."  It was a small home made sign for a family trying to make a few extra dollars.  I wonder how many, if any, people stop in to look at what they are selling or even to make a purchase. I am sure it is not many, and that is sad.  We have lost something in these times, and that is any kind of personal way of doing business.  I know even for my family, we supplement our income by selling on eBay.  It used to be more personal, but now with automatic invoices and the fact that we have to accept online payments, most of the personal touch is lost.  We have sort of been transformed from a collection of individual sellers to some kind of monolithic entity.  Online purchases certainly rule the day, though.  Beyond that, we buy our wares in giant stores made in a far off land with no originality whatsoever.  We buy our plants from garden centers where they are grown many miles away in giant plant factories.  Our gardens generally feature selections from the same general collection.  We buy our food and produce from supermarkets, with very few taking the time to buy from the farmers who actually grow them.  I daresay that most of us have never even been to a farm.  Besides, even our farms grow animals by a strict set of rules and processes determined by whatever meat companies they are contracted with and vegetables are grown with genetically modified seeds where each plant and fruit are the same as any other.  It is sad really.  I mean this nation used to be a collection of small businesses each with their own little twist on doing things.  Now we are nothing but a collection of chains and corporations. 

I suppose it is mostly our fault.  It is us who gives our business to the chains while allowing so-called "mom and pop" establishments to die on the vine of "progress."  We have allowed ourselves to become so utterly homogenized that even those who attempt to be individualistic follow a predictable pattern of style and behavior.  I do not know if any kind of genuine individualism even exists. 

So what is the point in my writing this?  Where is the message for the Christian in all of this?  I think what we have lost in doing everything the easy way is any ability to fend for ourselves.  What would happen if supermarkets closed up.  Do you even know how to grow you own food?  What if Walmart was gone, how many people even know how to sew their own clothes?  We are like children reliant on others to provide everything for us.  If this troubling economy we are in ever crashes, I am afraid we will be totally lost.  I know God will provide for us, but I wonder if most of us would even know what to do with his provision if that provision does not come from a store. 

Beyond that, as we allow ourselves to become part of the monolith, we lost our identity in Christ.  We should be different from the world.  We should be peculiar.  We should be distinct.  Yet we give our money to corporations who will use the profits we provide them to fund utterly sinful things while allowing those just trying to pay their bills (who may even be our brothers and sisters) to die on the vine. 

Part of me wishes that I lived in that first apostolic church where everyone took care of everyone else and in that became a witness to the entire world.  We have to learn to love and take care of one another. We have to learn to make use of this world God provided for us and not rely on others to make use of it for us.  We have to be more personal in our business dealings if only just to be able to share that witness. 

I don't know, maybe I am old fashioned or maybe I just long for an idea I have romanticized in my mind.  Either way, especially in our commerce, something is missing in the world today.
But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and [that] you may lack nothing. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 NKJV

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