Ken Hochstetler is president and CEO of Everence, a faith-centered financial services organization and an agency of Mennonite Church USA.
See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it;
He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants—
It will be the same
For priest as for people,
For the master as for his servant,
For the mistress as for her servant,
For seller as for buyer,
For borrower as for lender,
For debtor as for creditor.
The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered.
The Lord has spoken this word. – Isaiah 24:1-3 (NIV)
During the Advent season, we’re exposed to great darkness. With these words, Isaiah pushes us into imagining the devastation of the earth.
To people of faith, this graphic scene is uncomfortable at best. This kind of passage can seem difficult to reconcile with the God of love who we know and worship. We also know there’s much we can’t explain or even understand from the Old Testament world of the ancients – and this mystery continues in our world today.
Yet we can learn from this image. Isaiah names people in the religious, social and economic systems of that time – people who are also present in our time: the priest, servant, seller, borrower, debtor and creditor. They are all equal under the Lord.
This view – of the equality of humans in the eyes of God – spans across generations. It is a timeless spiritual truth that continues to give us meaning today.
While we might aspire to a higher religious plane, hang on to the social position we’re in or feel inferior because of our financial position, we know God relates to us the same no matter where we fit into our community.
At Everence, we are committed to working equally with people across the income spectrum, a practice which we believe reflects the values of our faith community. People of faith at all income levels and in all financial situations want to be stewards of their resources and to share those resources to bless the world.
We know God brings love and hope equally to us all with the birth of Jesus. After his humble birth in Bethlehem, Jesus is greeted by both shepherds and wise men.
One of the messages that rings through the Christmas season is that God is here for us all. Jesus ushers in the hope of shalom for the whole of humanity.
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