As we all watch the world’s most powerful financial system melt down before our eyes, the voice of the prophet Amos echoes in my ears: “I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house, the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished, declares the Lord” (Amos 3:15).
I have seen many who enjoy their summer houses and winter houses, adding more carbon footprints in the atmosphere. One political candidate doesn’t even know how many houses he owns!
According to the Institute for Policy Studies & United for a Fair Economy research report entitled “Executive Excess,” CEOs of large U.S. companies in 2006 made as much money from just one day on the job as average workers made over the entire year. According to data from an Associated Press survey of 386 Fortune 500 companies, these top executives averaged $10.8 million in total compensation, over 364 times the pay of the average American worker.
Consider this statistic: 5% of the world population consumes 3025% of the world resources. According to new statistics tallied by consultant McKinsey &Co.:
U.S. consumers have direct or indirect control over 65% of the country’s greenhouse-gas emissions while the rest of the world is just 43%. How we drive, how we build, and use our homes and offices, lead some of the most energy-intensive lives in the world. (The Wall Street Journal, Thursday October 2, 2008)
During the Israelites’ most prosperous time, Amos delivered God’s anger at the rich who lived a lavish lifestyle but neglected the poor in their midst. Overconsumption in the U.S. has global and ecological consequences. Where are the prophets like Amos during our current scandalous economic debacle? The system is broken and the nation faces a major credit and credibility plunge.
It is time for the people of God to wake up and radically depart from debt- accumulating consumerism and become responsible stewards. This can be done and in a manner that glorifies God. In my next post, I will share a practical example of how God’s people can take steps toward responsible stewardship.