Make Responsible Choices

Sunday, June 16

6-16By Dave Schaal of Independence, Missouri, USA

“I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘give me your vineyard for money; or else, if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard for it’; but he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” His wife Jezebel said to him, “Do you now govern Israel?…I will give you the vineyard of Naboth…” Two scoundrels came in and …brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. As soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab set out to go down to the vineyard…to take possession of it. Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you. Because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the Lord, I will bring disaster on you…”

—1 Kings 21:6–7, 16, 20–21

I am writing this in December. Where I live, December I cold, and the voices on the radio remind me of children in my city who go without the warmth of a good coat.

Last week, I stood in a store looking at a coat that I wanted. I stood a long time, wondering what a “responsible choice” would be. These would be nothing inherently wrong with me buying it. At the same time, my mind went to those kinds. I could use the money to help them.

So I stood motionless in front of the coat, greed and guilt arguing with eath other. What does it mean to make a responsible choice? To neglect the poor is unchristian. To neglect my own needs is unwise. The gospel is easy in principle. It’s more challenging in the specific.

I share this struggle with you today because I am thankful for it. I am thankful because it is the fruit of my involvement in Community of Christ. Were it not for my faith community, it would be easy to surrender to the demands of consumer culture that declare “it’s all about me…my happiness…and my capacity to buy.”

In my faith community, though, I am reminded that caring for the poor is at the heart of our call as disciples of Jesus Christ. I remember the scriptures that shape our church, in the welfare of those children resides my welfare.

My struggle in front of the coat was real, and I still struggle at times to know what the responsible choice is. I praise God, though, that I belong to a church that invokes that struggle in me, because of its faithful demands that we love and care for people in need.

Prayer for Peace
merciful god, may we always pause and evaluate our decisions in light of justice.

Spiritual Practice: Abolish Poverty, End Suffering
Read and reflect on John 21:15–17 as a meditation. Let your mind be drawn to places I the world where people have no homes. Think of those who are refugees from their homeland. Be aware of those who are hungry and homeless, who wander the streets or live in shelters. Let the images fill your mind.

Offer a prayer for those who are suffering. Imagine Christ tending those sheep. Think of ways you might end their suffering, as part of your mission. Throughout the day, carry in your mind the voice of Christ saying: “Feed my lambs…tend my sheep.”

Peace Covenant
Today, God, it will not be “all about me.”

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