We are living in a world that solves all of its problems with money. No matter what the trouble is, or who's responsible, it seems that there's nothing that can't be "settled" by a number.
An engine blew apart on a commercial airplane, shattering a window and killing one passenger; the company gave every passenger on the plane $5,000. Similar stories have been heard from cruise ships when trips have become infected by norovirus or whatever. Here's some cash. Countless lawsuits are settled this way every day, including a recent high-profile case in which young women abused by a man who should have been stopped were paid money by those who should have stopped him and didn't.
And then we call it even.
Time for a dose of the truth: for all of the money that we throw at them, there's not a single problem in this entire world that can be solved with cash. Not even, ironically, poverty. Despite what we want to tell ourselves and despite the narrative the world is selling us (at rock-bottom cost!), money doesn't fix things.
I think this is what Jesus warned us about. We're in love with money.
We're in love with money to the point that it is the root of all of our evils. We do horrible things to one another, fail in our responsibilities to one another, and essentially write it all off because we think that one check will take care of it. Money has cheapened us to the point that nothing we do matters any more because human beings don't matter any more and even we don't matter any more. We're nothing more than numbers and life is a financial transaction.
Then we wonder why our world is broken. We wonder why no one stops the abusive doctor. We wonder why no one stops the bullies. We wonder why no one recalls the tainted food. We wonder why it doesn't matter what we do or who we do it to...or worse, what is done to us or by whom. It all boils down to how much we're willing to take for it, and if the number fits, it's fair game.
Companies aren't even scared any more. Criminals aren't even scared. Conmen aren't even scared. You know who's scared? It's the rest of us. Because we know that one day, our number is going to come up, something terrible is going to happen to us, and someone's going to offer us a check for it.
Only then will some of us realize that a check won't cover it. Money doesn't fix things.
It doesn't fix the shame that hundreds of young women now feel when they think about their own bodies, when they realize they're spending another day stuck in their own skin. It doesn't soothe the grief of the family whose young son and barely-known father is dead because no one told him his vehicle was recalled. It doesn't fix the fear that frequent flyers now pack in their carry-on every time they have to step onto another airplane. And it doesn't fix the betrayal that we feel when we realize that another human being has taken advantage of us and tried to buy us out of it.
The only salve for our relational wounds is community, and community is not a financial investment. Try as you might, you can never buy it. All the money in the world won't hold your wounded soul together.
As Christians, we have to be a people who stand up and say no more, a people who refuse to be bought and sold. We have to declare that we know the truth, that we know our real value, and that we know money doesn't fix things.
Only love can do that.
It takes a far greater investment, but I think that if we would start loving each other the way that Jesus always told us to, the way that our souls ache in longing for, then we would see for real the high cost of the ways that we wound each other. And then, maybe we wouldn't love our money so much.
Because we'd realize that the more money we throw at each other, the more broke we all are.