I'm closing in on what I have left to post from what I wrote five years ago. I accidentally posted the first part of this chapter more than a week ago, so now we're back on track until the end. To find the earlier part, navigate via the Archive link on the right (you'll likely have to scroll down a bit).
Chapter 4: If These are my Circumstances, How do I Live Faithfully? Part 2
It wasn‛t until seminary that I began to understand sin in terms other than simple right and wrong behavior. There are most assuredly more complete discussions of this concept, but here‛s a brief description and illustration of a different view.
Think of good and evil as more of a net. When you‛re in a net, especially with other people, when you move, they feel it on their end of the net. Moving in one direction creates tension for someone you may not even see. What‛s good for me is not necessarily good for someone else. Indeed, what gives life to someone else may cause my strangling death.
This is how it is with us in this world. We try to do good, but sometimes the results are evil for someone else.
Let‛s look for a moment at a more concrete example. Let‛s look at Wal-Mart.
I don‛t like shopping at Wal-Mart. They have put many small businesses out of business. They have a history of treating their male employees better than their female employees. Their business practices tend to exploit the poor of the world, especially in employing low-wage workers in other countries to put goods on their shelf.
At the same time, Wal-Mart has very affordable goods. There can be no doubt that their low prices make providing clothes and school supplies much easier for working class families. Right now, I live from paycheck to paycheck myself and I know that given the choice between a new pair of work khakis for ten dollars at Wal-Mart and twenty dollars somewhere else, Wal-Mart is going to get my business. While I‛m there, I see that I am surrounded by families who rely on that difference in prices to keep their children fed and presentable. Maybe just barely, but if I, as a single person, have trouble eating and living indoors, I definitely can‛t condemn a family of five for shopping where they can get three shirts for the price of one elsewhere.
So, Wal-Mart makes affordable goods available to poor people. Wal-Mart exploits poor people to supply affordable goods. What part of the cycle has to stop first?
If these are the circumstances of our lives, how do we live faithfully?
(still a bit more to come)