Friday, June 18, 2010

Jesus Shaped Values

Two posts at Jenny's blog provoked thought today. Economic rationalism shapes how we ascribe value to work (by salary size) and the perceived necessities for raising kids.

We live in a world where some people earn 6 and 7 figure salaries for moving money from place to place, while others work in physically demanding jobs, for long days and receive a few dollars. From a global perspective, money as a measure of either the difficulty of a job or the significance of a task is bankrupt.

Salary is much more dependent on your location in the world, the economy you work within and the power of 'the market' in determining employment. Still we are drawn in to measuring our labour and often our value by the money we receive. At the root of this thinking, is the idea that the value of a person is in what they do.

As Jenny pointed out, so much valuable work is unpaid (child-rearing, care of elderly or disabled family members, volunteer work) or paid comparatively little (eg. teachers, welfare, service). Pay as a measure of value fails.

A market economy will never truly estimate the value of care, of service or of nurture. It just does not compute, because economic rationalism has difficulty with intangibles that have hard-to-measure outcomes. The wisdom of putting time and energy into love and family is foolishness to someone who measures value in dollars.

Money has such high value among us because it is a means of obtaining things. Most people want to have things. Unfortunately our covetous hearts are ripe and ready to be plucked by the lie of "You need more stuff". Then we have children. And loving our children can become synonymous with making sure they have enough of the right stuff.

Where I live, plenty of kids share bedrooms and don't go to private schools. But I still see parents who worry about the size of their Christmas laybys and Chrisco hampers, at the expense of creating a loving, nurturing home for their children. Expressing love is difficult and we have been sold the lie that giving stuff is an effective way of loving someone.

We live in one of the richest nations in the world. and we can be fooled into thinking we are poor because someone else has more than us. When we feel poor (and in reality we are not) we become poor in the values that really matter - generosity, thankfulness, grace and celebration - ultimately, poor in love. We assume scarcity rather than abundance and start protecting our patches and feathering our nests, rather than sharing our blessings.

Jesus worked in an economy based on love, service and sacrifice. Using that measure, the work of nurture and care of our families is exceedingly valuable. He did not choose people based on salary or monetary worth. He did not love people by giving them stuff. Instead he spent time with a vast array of people, often those who scored low on the measure of value employed by society at the time. Outcasts, sinners, the sick, children, women, to name a few. He treated each one of those people with dignity, with love and with compassion. He called them to turn from worldly values and live with heavenly values, with a passion to serve and to bless.

People need to see us doing that, so they can begin to question the lies that the world tells them about how to value people and how to love people.


Mommy Emily said...

i join you in learning this. thank you.

Kath said...

thanks for saying hello. good luck in your cross country journey/move. god bless you. k

Jenny said...

Thanks Kath - these are really helpful reflections on my posts. Important discussion to have I think.

Kath said...

Thanks for dropping in and commenting, Jenny. I enjoy reading your blog.