Breaking Free from a Transactional Society (Part 1)
Christmas is upon us, and as much as the season should be readily reminding me about the birth of Jesus, the immediate image that comes to mind is a radically different one – the annual exchange of $50 gift cards at our extended family gathering.
Yes, perhaps when we were younger there was some fun, with random toys and another yellow shirt from Nan, but now that we are older, nobody is surprised when the envelopes come out. No complications, equal distribution, no judgement as to whether something is good or bad – a supposedly “beautiful” economy of equity for all parties to enjoy. Being a little OCD myself, I can understand the delight, yet it also is a sobering reminder that we rarely give more than we can afford to lose.
It is in this season of Christmas, that the image of transaction comes to the forefront of my mind. I’m reminded of Sheldon proclaiming to Penny in an early episode of The Big Bang Theory,
“You haven’t given me a gift, you’ve given me an obligation!”
I have no doubt you have experienced this before, and you will have your own stories to share. But what I do know is this, a spirit of obligation gives birth to guilt, shame, frustration and even anger. Which raises the question, how can something as pure and selfless as gift giving end up causing so much destruction? Is it any wonder that “gift” derives it’s meaning from the German word for “poison”!
However as followers of Jesus there is a different economy that we can participate in, one that turns the other cheek, or goes a second mile in the face of transaction – the radical, unfair economy of grace.
More coming soon.