“The times we’re in….” Perhaps accompanied by a sad or anxious sigh, these words set in motion a parade of other thoughts. How easily any of us can be frozen by our contemplation of the dangers, sorrows or evils of our day. Inaction solves nothing, but it may feel like the only approach open to us. But perhaps there’s another way out of all of this.
Previously I wrote about kenosis, how Jesus emptied himself of everything as part of his redeeming life. Following his example, it’s possible that we can move past what bedevils us now. Self-emptying—living for the sake of others—might be a most-promising societal change, one that older adults could lead.
The worrisome parts of our lives will not be solved by hedonism, egotistical thinking or disregard of those around us. Self-centeredness might be momentarily satisfying, but that lifestyle runs out of juice pretty quickly. Narrow-minded self-preservation eventually comes up short. Claiming our rights only fuels the self-idolatry that feeds any unworkable ways of achieving “the good life.”
The way of Jesus—especially the kenosis part—seems like one way to move ourselves into a manageable future. It could take widespread lifestyle sacrifices to slow down the disaster of climate change. Consuming fewer things, fewer resources, fewer people’s lives—could extend the reach of what’s available. Sharing might counteract hoarding. Giving our precious time to others could rob hyper-entertainment and hyper-consumption of their power.
Most of us—including those who are older—already know and practice kenosis living. Our example is already soaking into the consciousness of the wider society. By naming Jesus as the source and motivation for this kind of living, we can extend God’s redeeming love farther and deeper in these times.
This could be one way out….