It’s a common statement that no one, when they are at the end of their life, has ever said that they wished they had worked more in their life. The most common regret is that we worked too much and not spent enough time with family and loved ones.
It is also a common American belief that our economy should constantly be growing. But for the economy to grow, it requires more work – time away from family and loved ones.
The two ideas are in conflict with each other.
While we claim to value relationships and people over profits, we put into practice a different set of beliefs. Another way of saying this is that we are believers in relationships, but functioning producers. We produce, so we can consume.
This is a far cry from what God has made us to be. God didn’t create us to be consumers who would never be satisfied. Pharoah demanded more bricks. Pharoah demanded work seven days a week. God offered Sabbath – resting from producing so that our identities would not be falsely tied to what we make. Rather our identities are tied to whose we are. Sabbath is counter cultural in our American culture.
Unending growth comes at a cost. It turns people into commodities. But that growth has to be paid for somehow. The initial payment is in labor and resources. The deeper cost is brokenness, health, exploitation of resources, disorders, anxiety, power struggles, etc.
Believing in unending growth means that you can never be satisfied. That there is never enough. That there is a constant war for resources going on. That the only the strong survive. That the ends justify the means. These are not Christ-like ideals or beliefs.
Christ-like ideals and beliefs are different. As St. Augustine said – there is no rest, until we rest in God. We worship a God who gives us satisfaction and rest. We worship a God who is abundant and tells us that there is more than enough for everyone. We worship a God who brings peace. We worship a God who values the weak, the outcast, and the poor. We worship a God who judges the means.
Something has to give. Is it our beliefs or how we actually function? Let us be congruent. Let us be honest.