One of the many problems our world has faced during the pandemic is all manner of supply shortages. In the US, we have experienced a shortage in chicken wings and pork, lumber and new houses, microchips for new cars and ketchup packets for restaurants, just to name a few. Yet one of the most curious (and talked about) shortages was not initiated by production or transport problems. It was the toilet paper shortage at the beginning of the shutdown.
While the reason for some shortages were easily traced to manufacturing or shipping problems, experts concluded that there was no logical reason for the run on toilet paper. But it was telling window into our psyche and character. The stockpiling of things we don’t need and/or in amounts we don’t need is not just about greed. It’s also about fear that dulls our compassion and empathy.
But as Paul lays out in 2 Corinthians 8, Jesus models a wider way—one that’s never satisfied when we have excess while others are excluded. In places of plenty, we loosen our grip so that others don’t go without. God has always been concerned that the plenty of some doesn’t lead to the poverty of others.
Further, like the Macedonian churches, even in times of scarcity, we find ways to joyfully share. And we lean ever more towards the generous compassion of Jesus, who was rich in every way, but emptied himself for the world to lift us up.