The Pope’s words to our ‘throwaway’ culture

Pope Francis has made a good impression on the world.  He came into his role as the pope hoping to emphasize the positive teachings of Jesus and focus on the needs of the poor.  Last week, in his annual address to the Vatican diplomatic corps, the pope used a phrase that resonated with truth.

Pope Francis said that abortion was “horrific” and part of a new “throwaway culture.”  He said that this culture wastes life as easily as it wastes food.  He then said, “It is frightful even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day.”

I’m glad that the pope spoke so clearly about the issue of abortion.  I think his phrase “throwaway culture” could easily apply to the United States and other parts of the world.  God values every life and he never gave us the option to throw away a baby.  We can never stop speaking about the value of life, even if the culture has grown tired of listening.  There is grace for our sin, but there is judgment for our apathy.

We are used to “disposable” items in this country.  We buy and get rid of clothing seasonally.  We drive through any number of places to get a meal and then throw away the containers.  Our meals are too large so we often throw away what we don’t eat.  In fact, a lot of articles suggest we actually leave food on our plate if we want to lose weight.

Pope Francis didn’t just refer to the issue of abortion with his phrase.  He also said, “We cannot be indifferent to those suffering from hunger, especially children, when we think of how much food is wasted every day in many parts of the world immersed in what I have often termed the throwaway culture.”

I admit, I cringe to think about the quantity of food that I have thrown away in my lifetime.  It is difficult to know how to find a solution for wastefulness.  Jim and I share a meal when we eat out at certain restaurants and that has helped us not to waste – but not to feed anyone else.

I think it is possible for every Christian to impact the culture, one choice at a time.  Each of us has the ability, and the responsibility to make a difference.  We aren’t accountable for the choices of our culture, but we are accountable for what we choose to do.

Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”  Each of us can feed people who need help.  It might be as easy as a check in the mail to a favorite mission.  It might be responding to someone on the street or supporting your local food bank.  We can work to be careful with our own possessions and spending so that we have more to give others.  All of us can help to feed people who are hungry.

Our lives matter to God.  I think God grieves over the people who are going hungry in one part of the world while in another nation, food is tossed in the garbage and rendered unfit to eat.  God has provided for all people, but he asks us to share what he has given.  

Paul told Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19).

By the world’s standards, most of us are “rich in this present world.”  How can we choose to live so that we can be wealthy eternally?  We live in a throwaway culture – but we know what God values.  May we all be “rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share.”  What deposits will you make this week into heaven’s treasury through your choices?

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