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Thursday, February 28, 2013

We Exploit One Another

lately, i have been thinking a lot about my role as a consumer. I have been taking a lot at some of the things that I consume and asking questions like, "did someone or something have to suffer so that I can be more comfortable?

The other day I was thinking about the fashion and beauty industry. I read that we spend billions of dollars every year trying to make ourselves look better. We spend gigantic sums of money rearranging and slicing off our body parts so that we can feel beautiful and accepted. We pay large sums of money to have ourselves filled with chemicals and augmented so that we reach, what we think, is a certain level of "perfection." If only we could grasp thehow much Christ loves us, then we wouldn't feel the constant need to change ourselves.

Yesterday, I watched a video that haunted me. I didn't realize what I was watching until it started playing. The video revealed the horrific reality of animal abuse in China.

I watched animals being literally skinned alive, writhing in pain. Once skinned, I saw them tossed into a pile of bloody bodies, some still struggling to survive.

I saw how cats and dogs are carried in crates. The crates are thrown off of huge trucks, and the bones of the animals break as a result of the impact. They are left to suffer so that we can purchase furs and trinkets.

I remember years ago watching the movie Blood Diamond. The movie drew attention to the diamond industry. Diamonds are rare and beautiful, and because of greed, they have started wars and resulted in bloodshed and mass casualties. People saw wealth in them and justified killing and murder as a means of "bettering" themselves.

so, what point am I trying to make? Truthfully, I'm not criticizing people who undergo plastic surgery.
But why do we feel the need to change ourselves?

 I once had a problem with an eating disorder but now I see so much of of our obession with our appearance  , as a combination of vanity and, in a lot of cases, the cry of those who simply desperately want to be loved and will spend any amount of money necessary to achieve that end.  If only we could grasp that beauty will fade, but love is eternal.  If only we could love and accept one another instead of creating impossbile and ridulous standards, then we would understand that, in the eyes of Christ, we are measured, not by our ability to achieve or become something greater, but, something less.
 "Consider others as better than yourselves" Christ whispers..

Sadly, it's all messed up.

The world is all messed up. If we took care of one another like we should, then, perhaps we wouldn't see such waste.

In all of the above topics, we can see so much waste. Finanical waste. (think of the millions that could be clothed and fed on the money we spend on our vanity)

We can see how life is wasted and animals are humiliated and tormented for no other purpose than so we can "look good."

We forget that cotton can do the same job as fur, but our need to keep up with Joneses has become more important than the life of a living creature.

Yesterday, as I was thinking of all these things, I came to a conclusion.

 It is in our human nature, to exploit one another.  We do it everyday. Sometimes, it is on a very small scale. For instance, when we find a wallet and fail to return it even though we know who it belongs to based on the information inside. We exploit others when we lie to them for personal gain. We exploit others when we lie to them, at all. We tell them that aren't worth the truth, and we hurt them in our selfishness. We exploit others in our words.

We exploit others when accept a paycheck but fail to do an adequate job out of our desire to be lazy.  I once heard a quote, and it rings true.

"People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used."

I have recently been writing and God has been showing me how many people are exploited in church settings, but I had the sudden realization that exploitation is not a function of religion. Nor, is it a function of a church. Exploitation is simply a part of our own human nature.
It is who we are without Christ.

It isn't a recent invention. It's been with us since the world began. We have seen it in the face of slavery where we sliced open the backs of other humans to labor so that we might be rich. We can see it in our nation's history when we forced a peaceful people off of their land so that we might profit. We forced the Indians to walk a Trail of Tears, leaving thousands of dead bodies and wailing mothers grieving over thier dead sons and daughters..  so that we could have more room for our own endeavors. We showed that we valued land and property over human life.
We valued territory over fellowship with strangers. dissension over peace. chaos over love.

I love our the freedom of my nation, and I honor those who protect it..and even though I HATE war,  I will pray for our troops,but my kingdom is not of this world. I love people of ALL nations . and my allegience in this life is to God and His Son, my family and those I love, and the orphans, widow, and poor that we are Called to defend. ..they are reason that I sit behind this keyboard. They are the reason that I write. Christ said that He would defend the poor, the helpless, the needy, and the orphan.. they are the ones who are the most exploited. Tonight, I write for them. the ones who are often the faceless target of our own selfish motives and greed.
We exploit over 27 million people a year in the sex trade industry. Our needs have become so great that we traffic human beings and use them any way we please, and sometimes they are sold for a mere fifteen dollars. We pour billions of dollars into the pornography industry. And if we aren't part of the solution, then are we, essentially, a part of the problem?

When porn is purchased, for instance, is that a way of only feeding the machine especially since many of the same victims who are exploited are featured in films for our own selfish entertainment.

Then there's the Mutter Musuem. The Mutter Museum is a famous museum in Philadelphia. It features real human bodies on display. I learned from a friend that bodies of those on display are often "John Does," people who died and are nameless. They are often very poor or homeless people from Asia. Instead, of giving them a proper burial, we put them in poses, pay a fee, and gawk at them for our own entertainment. Of course, it's all in the name science, so it's "justified." but in my mind, it is a sickening tribute to everything that is wrong with the world.

Instead of loving people, we use them...we do all we can to make a profit. Note that there aren't any rich people on display at the Mutter museum, only those who were humiliated in life, and are, once again, humiliated by having their bodies exposed and open to the world so that we can learn something.
Isn't it ironic that despite centuries of learning and education, we are still ultimatly the same, and in some ways, no better than we were before? when will we discover that when we have found PERfect Love, then we have essentially found everything..and that when we have found Love, then we understand God?

Then, there is the Holocost. Millions of Jews were slaughtered and their dead bodies used to sell products. Their skins were used to make lamps, and their hair was inserted into pillows. i shiver when I think of the piles of dead bodies and immense human suffering because one man deemed them an inferior race. When will we learn not to trust in man, but to lean on God for wisdom and understanding?

I read an article the other day about the food industry. The food industry has done research to find what chemicals will cause us to be addicted to certain foods. They want us addicted to food that is harming our bodies for no other purpose than to obtain the mighty dollar and personal gain and greed. I read an article that says that Coke advertises more heavily to the poor. Is it because the poor tend to be less educated and less aware of the long term health effects of drinking their products? Yes, and all for the dollar. I also read that most of the products that claim to contain blueberries, don't even contain real blueberries. What they contain is a mixture of dye and high fructose corn syrup. What is the reason behind false and deceptive advertising? There is only one answer. It is because we live in a world where cash is king. Things are loved and people are used, instead of the other way around.

This is what we have become. This is what we have always been. We exploit others when we take advantage of them in any way, shape, or form.

I guess the purpose of this post is to ask the question: What is the cost of what we do? What is the cost of what we fail to do? What is the cost of the things that we buy? The things that we watch?
who are we exploiting? what waste have we incurred at the cost of innocent life?
are we in a postition to abuse power? how many people have we hurt? is there a better way? do we hurt others in our waste by saying that our toys and luxuries are more important than their need to be fed and clothed?  Lord, help me not to be wasteful! Teach me stewardship!

A few more thoughts:

Power tends to corrupt. It tends to lead to greed. And greed often leads us into atrocities, like wars.

The thing that I love about Christ is that when He came to earth, the people were expecting a great king. They expected Him to have kingdoms, and servants. They probably half expected Him use His power for greatness. But Christ came as a servant to teach us the upside down economics of the Kingdom of the God.. He showed us the one who is willing to lower Himself, is the one who is the greatest in Heaven.
He came to teach us humility by sacrificing His very life and dying a sinners death upon a Cross, so that we might gain eternal life through His innocent Bloodshed.
It is through Him, that we learn that is not more power, more money, (contrary to today's church teachings) that we need..but more of Himself. We need humility, considering others as Better than ourselves and NOT the other way around.

And it is in and through Him that we can see that none of the reasons that we hurt one another even matter. Nothing is worth the cost of hurting another human living being. Not money. Not power. Nothing.

Christ came to show us that there are forces that long to destroy us, but He came that we might have life and have it in abundance. Does this mean an abundance of wealth?

No, it means He came to teach us that a full life is a life of sacrifice and there is beauty to be found in the the giving up.. in the laying down of a life, so that we can learn the meaning of FREEDOM. and  that freedom comes, not through sin, but through service to one another and loving one another with great depth and treating one another with great dignity... even and especially the least of these...the ones we often exploit...

all too often, i hear the cry of the lost. they refuse a relationship with Christ because they have been exploited for money in a church or they turn on their televisons, only to see men in business suits, selling miracles and salvation for a cost...
Exploitation is not a function of Christ. It is not who He was.

IT is what happens when walk in the flesh. It is a function of greed and selfish ambition. It is a function of envy and lustful pleasures. 

Here's a question that I would like to throw out and correct me if I am wrong..
I often see very wealthy pastors begging for money. Money is not evil in itself, but, if we are forsaking the needs of those around us in order to appeal to our own comfort, then are we just as guilty? When we buy the million dollar mansion or the outrageous new fountain for the foyer, are we walking in selfish ambition? or envy because we want to compete with the church down the street? Is this representative of self denial or the taking up of a Cross?

Christ said we fulfull the law when we bear one another's burdens..  Jesus wants us to take care of one another...not exploit one another.

one final thought and this is the most important one:

Pssst.. hey you. sitting behind your computer screen or your iphone or whatever....

Jesus loves you. He longs to take you in and show you the upside down nature of love. He longs to lavish His love upon you. He longs to take away the sins of the world and wash them in something pure and clean and good and white. He longs to take away the pain that you are feeling, and give you something new. He sees you.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Jesus will not exploit and he can change you so that you will not ever want to exploit others...

Christ said that the fruits of the flesh are obvious. They are sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, and drunkeness, to name a few..

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