As we turn on the TV again we’re confronted with a choice of hundreds of channels. We have a right to choose what we want to watch, how we want to live. We have a right to choose whatever gadgets, whatever clothes, whatever house and car. As long as we work hard, we have a right to a comfortable life.
We’ll watch the news, but only on the large flatscreen TV that we have chosen, and when we’ve had enough of the tragedies from afar we’ll switch over and return to our “reality TV”. The world where we’re in control, where we have a right to pursue an endless supply of wealth and happiness. The world where we look after number one, and then proudly pronounce that God has blessed us.
One day our TV starts telling us that we might start getting poorer. We might have less money to spend, and less choice of things to make our lives easy. Outraged, we insist that something must be done to stop this infringement on our right to ever increasing wealth and comfort. After all, we live in a developed country, and God has blessed us.
Our politicians tell us the only solution is to borrow, borrow, borrow. Buy more to breathe life into the stagnating economy, our trusted old friend who we thought was immortal. At all costs we must keep spending, not losing sight our God-given right to economic prosperity.
So we keep striving for ever-increasing wealth, desperately trying to make ends meet without having to give up any of our comforts. It’s our right to control our destiny. It’s our right to have power over our own lives, to be rich as long as we work hard. It’s our right to create a good and easy life for ourselves, to enjoy our retirement in comfort.
But then gradually, a haunting thought comes into our minds that won’t go away… what if it was all an illusion? As we have been chasing after our rights, we have a vague recollection that others, millions were dying, starving, being killed in war. As we have been arguing about tax cuts, and economics, innocent people have been tortured and murdered. As we have been worrying about our own comfort, millions have been wondering whether they will ever eat again.
But, surely… God has been with us all along. We have always honoured him with our Sunday mornings, we have asked him to be with us, to bless our plans.
The thought won’t go away, and as we look around, desperately trying to comfort ourselves that we’re all in the same boat, we suddenly realise that there is a large ocean beyond the sides of the boat. All of a sudden reality isn’t as real as it seemed. We look to each other for comfort, but no one has any answers. Now the things we always took for granted, our comforts, our security, look so hollow and feeble, mocked by the reality that we are just now beginning to see.
Our saviour, the one we thought we knew, has returned. We can’t quite believe that our wealth, our democracy, our economic prosperity have vanished in the blink of an eye. As we think back what seems like an age to our world of reality TV, new clothes and fast food, we ask “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?”
Finally we realise all too late that Jesus wasn’t in our multinational corporations. He wasn’t in our banks and our governments. He wasn’t on our entertainment shows or in our shopping malls. He was a poor man, living with the lowest of the low, enduring suffering, mockery and even death. And now he has returned as king.