Thursday, November 09, 2006
I think about this now and then. Our culture is very independent. I can choose to be a loner because I take care of almost all of my own needs. I think in Jesus' day people didn't have that luxury.
Leisure time was probably scarce for most people. Living each day was a struggle except for the fatcats. What else is new? They didn't have refrigerators so they had to go to the market every day, to struggle with the baker's high prices, the grain-seller's short weights and all the other ways to cheat. Whatever was left over went to the tax man, who skimmed his own profit so that he could move up to Fatcat Hill.
Still, that daily contact would reinforce humanity. You can't help but get to know the people you rub shoulders with regularly, and some friendships would develop out of that. Borrowing a cup of wheat to make up for a month-end shortage, or getting some help with a sick child, or maybe some sewing advice. Nowadays we do that kind of thing on the Internet.
I really doubt, though, that this helped anyone get closer to God. If Jesus were here today he'd see similar distractions in different modes. Instead of complaining about the tax collector, the grain merchant would be sitting in traffic in his fancy car, cell phone glued to his ear while the music from the stereo filled the car and he tried to track a missing shipment. Back then it would have been donkey brays and dust and a worried broker looking down the road for his day-late load from Mt Hermon.
People would probably have been more sensitive. Everything they did depended upon the weather so they were finely attuned to the state of the atmosphere. From Jesus' comments people weren't using that sensitivity to find Him. I'm sure the sensitive ones still walked away from the towns, even as Jesus did, to get away from the bustle humans create at whatever level technology allows.
So, you start with the premise that people want to be distracted. We don't want to hear God's voice until, at least in my case, he lets events unravel to the point where it's His voice or nothing. This is rather sad. Why is the most beautiful sound in the Universe so universally ignored? I ignore God because I'm afraid. Each step is a battle. The beauty still wins. I hope that continues.
Back then, same concerns, I believe: money, work, eat, sleep, sex. How those things were accomplished in 16 hours or more a day. . .well, we always fill up our time with busyness.