Saturday, June 29, 2013

More or less

On the radio I hear it again: the stock market rose today. The economy grew. Housing market resurgence--great! Ford sold more cars--awesome! An unnoticeable part in me sighs with relief. But, is more the answer to inequality?  How often do we question the innate goodness of growth?

The belief that bigger is better seems embedded in all aspects of our culture. In the fitness world, if you can run more miles (ultramarathon anyone?) or lift more weight, you are stronger, healthier. In church I see the pastor smiling: "the church is growing." This implies not only more money but also more momentum. More kids at Sunday school and youth group. More ministries in the community. In the nonprofit world, serving more students/clients/patients is a good thing. While there are some quality standards, funding is often doled out primarily on the basis of the number of people served.

There is, of course, the sustainable growth thing. You hear it from humanitarians and environmentalists. A realization that growth can't go unchecked forever, that we have to be careful about it--but still generally viewing growth as a good thing.

I think we need to stop for a minute before we buy into all this more is better stuff. Even with the good things, like ministries and nonprofits. Even when it's sustainable growth. Depth might be more important than quantity. Equality might be more important than quantity.

Jesus founded what some would call the descending way. The opposite of growth and success. He became smaller--from God to human. He focused on a few people and led them lower and lower in society, to humiliation and death. So if our bible study is only two people, if we only have one student in GED classes today, if our "impact" is small, maybe we're on the right track. It may not make sense, but the last will be first, and the humble will be exalted. So let me shoot for the tiny, small things I can do here in Cherokee, and let's all shoot for the tiny small ways we can love, forgive, and fade into obscurity.

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