The illusion of numbers
Isaiah 55: 1-3a
1 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
Money has always been something of an illusion, especially paper money. Worth very little as raw materials, it is the promise on notes to give the bearer a certain monetary sum that has us taking such care of them. More recently, cards, electronic banking and contactless payment take us even further from away from anything of inherent value. We deal more often with numbers on a screen than with metal coinage.
This can be problematic, because we start to lose sight of the true value and worth of things, and those who offer them. Numbers can only ever tell us so much. They will never tell us the human story behind a transaction or an interaction, whether it occurs in the market-place or the sanctuary.
We frequently think transactionally,
hoping to get a bargain,
keep the numbers positive;
We perceive growth in terms of numbers:
more likes, shares and plays.
You see differently.
You see individuals who need to be fed,
for who they are,
just as they are.
You think nothing of offering them everything,
expecting nothing in return.
if only we could be so reckless,
so utterly without concern
for our own survival,
our own sense of importance…
your kingdom might truly come
and your will might be done, AMEN.