Greed has many faces. So does generosity.
This story is making its rounds on Facebook and made its way into my news feed:
An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he gave them the signal to run they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they chose to run as a group when they could have had more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?” “UBUNTU” in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are”.
This sounds very much to me like the early church. After the day of Pentecost, when so many people believed and changed their ways to follow Jesus, the church was characterized by unselfishness and joy:
They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— Acts 2:46 (NLT)
Great joy and generosity is what the African children exhibited; they were joyful over the fruits and generous to share them.
It also sounds so 1800-opposite of what Solomon warned his child about – greed!
My child, listen when your father corrects you. Don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honor around your neck. My child, if sinners entice you, turn your back on them! They may say, “Come and join us. Let’s hide and kill someone! Just for fun, let’s ambush the innocent! Let’s swallow them alive, like the grave; let’s swallow them whole, like those who go down to the pit of death. Think of the great things we’ll get! We’ll fill our houses with all the stuff we take. Come, throw in your lot with us; we’ll all share the loot.” My child, don’t go along with them!
Stay far away from their paths. They rush to commit evil deeds. They hurry to commit murder. If a bird sees a trap being set, it knows to stay away. But these people set an ambush for themselves; they are trying to get themselves killed. Such is the fate of all who are greedy for money; it robs them of life. Proverbs 1:8-19 (NLT)
Greed is a downward spiral that never ends pretty!
I commented on the Facebook post that this Ubuntu was Christianity in its purest form, where the community lifts and is lifted. A friend countered with – so…Christianity is Socialism?
Perhaps my friend was only playing “devil’s advocate” to stir the pot of conversation, but I took the bait willingly and responded – no…just hearts unchained to stuff.
Social media claim to enhance “community” but I’ve never seen megabytes and pixels sit in a circle under a tree sharing sweet fruits, affirming that the whole community is connected and glad of it!
For that you need children to show the way!
This world could use a little Ubuntu; what do you think it will take to move us close enough to each other to get it started?