Some of us, as of this week, now face a moral dilemma.
Temptation and Fall
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The temptation that caused the fall of humanity in the Jewish narrative came in the form of unnecessary food. They already had all they needed. But this food promised to allow them to sort out right and wrong for themselves, to create their own system of weights and measures, so they no longer had to depend on God to provide for them.
As the Israelites marched through the desert, away from Egyptian slave-drivers and towards a homeland, the tension between God and his people was again food.
“If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you.”
God proved again that he could provide for them exactly what they needed, supernaturally. Bread fell from the sky. They called in “Manna,” which meant, “What is this stuff?” They were told to collect each morning only enough for the day. If the Israelites took more than what they needed for a day, it would rot. They didn’t have to store up. In this way, God called them back into dependence and rewarded them with providence.
The Bread of Life
Jesus draws on the lessons of his heritage. He says things like:
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink.
Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
He teaches his disciples to pray:
Give us this day our daily bread.
And he says of himself:
I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never go hungry.
It is perhaps more than coincidence that his birthplace, Bethlehem, is a Hebrew word that means “House of Bread.”
The most natural, healthy relationship between God and humanity is when we are dependent every day for our basic needs, and we live without fear that a good Father will provide for us when we ask him.
Hoarding and Sharing
Instead, in crisis, we stockpile food that we don’t need, escalating anxiety and tension in our communities. That leads us to the moral dilemma.
If you have taken more resources than you need this last week, in fear not only of a virus which is not particularly remarkable, but also in anticipation of the fear of your neighbors, you now have a moral imperative. This is from the Lord, not me.
If you over-bought this week, take food to your neighbors. Give it to them and say, “I’m trying an experiment here. I’m giving this to you to see if Jesus will take care of me.” What will happen is that you will experience the relief of knowing that a good and powerful God watches over you. You will be set free from a spirit of fear. You’ll experience the joy of providing for others. You’ll make new friends. You’ll live a story that will be worth telling.
The other choice is to continue running with the herd, and exposing sins of which we will have to repent in the next generation.
The choices here are between faith and fear, panic and peace.
Try Jesus. He’ll give you what you need.