“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Luke 12:32-35
Edison Infante is a starving artist. He supports himself and his family through the functional art he creates and sells on the streets of Cucuta, Colombia. Cucuta is on the border of Colombia and Venezuela, and over the last several years hundreds of Venezolanos have left their homes in search of opportunities. Edison is one of these migrants who came to Colombia because hyperinflation has devasted the Venezuelan economy. In Cucuta, Edison makes purses and handbags out of the worthless Venezuelan banknotes. Each bag is made of thousands of bills that are worth mere pennies. With only a couple of sales a day Edison is able to support himself and his family. Edison says the “money bags” have been a have been a blessing in a dark time but that he longs to someday return to a peaceful Venezuela.
The 12th chapter of Luke focuses on the future. Jesus warns of troubles ahead and of persecution. He encourages his followers to trust in God during the dark times. He warns against greed, teaches us to be “rich toward(s) God,” and encourages us not to worry. “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them….Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet if that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you.” The chapter closes with Jesus telling his followers to pay attention to the signs of the times; to watch and be alert.
Reading this chapter, I cannot help but think of the news reports of continuing inflation. The lilies of the field do not have student loans or dreams of homeownership. The ravens are not watching costs rise while their income remains fixed. While I am not worried about a Venezuela-style collapse from hyperinflation, it is hard not to be concerned about what the future will hold. And yet, through the layers of uncertainty and questions, Christ’s words find my heart.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
I do not know exactly what this verse means but I do know that I need more than the promise of heaven. I need to know that God will provide for us on this side of eternity. I need to know that God has not lost sight of us (even when our greed has led us to lose sight of each other). I need to know that following the Great Giver is still the way we find life abundant. We follow the Great Giver not because of what we hope to receive but because God shows us how to give even in uncertain times. We do not worry because we still yet have ways to give. This is the kind of creativity I see in Edison.
It is through generosity that our heart will be able to see those moments when Jesus appears among us.