God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31, Recommend reading the full text, 1: 26-30)
Reading Genesis 1:26-30 is fascinating because here God created an economy of life as creation and installed two people, Adam and Eve, to manage it as stewards. God said it was very good. The fall of Adam and Eve destroyed the economy of life, and now humanity is faced with challenges in creation, including climate change, hunger and diseases. It is high time humanity recollects the lost paradise through the teachings of Jesus Christ that God created the earth for all to live sustainably in love. Humanity continued to destroy God’s creation by inventing an unsustainable economic system based on the neo-economic paradigm and using the market as a distributive mechanism of goods and growth without limits enhanced by greed. Where contemporary economic theory and practice start from the fundamental assumption of scarcity, the vision of the economy of life as creation is based on the affirmation of the abundance of life as a blessing from God, who provides enough for the needs of all and still sustaining the health of the Oikos. This aspect challenges humanity.
The vision of an economy of life spells out the rules of love, which are giving and receiving, sharing and just exchanging life in God’s household of life (the Oikos). This vision is an expression of spiritual discernment concerning the powers that dominate the economic realities of peoples’ lives. It challenges the laws of the market and redirects economic activities towards serving the common good. It trusts the transformative energies of the Holy Spirit to realize the promise of “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10b).
An economy of life responds primarily to people’s needs for life in the community rather than serving private interests and desires. However, life is more than survival and people are entitled to more than the satisfaction of material needs. Therefore, an economy of life is concerned with justice. It values cooperation rather than competitive individual achievement and seeks to provide opportunities for productive work for all. It emphasizes the participation of the people in decisions about production and distribution and assesses the value of products based on their use and sustainability rather than monetary gain in exchange. It seeks to build an economic order that respects human dignity, encourages solidarity and mutual accountability, and serves the common good.
The vision of an economy of life does not present a blueprint for an ideal state of ordering economic activities: Rather, it provides guidelines for transformative praxis that will continuously have to struggle with the temptations of abusing economic and financial power of exploiting the resources of nature and giving in to sinful drives of greed and egotism.
It was the fall of Adam that reversed the economy of life as creation by God to the economy of death that we are facing today. Repentance and adhering to the teachings of Christ underlying Love as a commandment and the above-stated values will help to revert to God’s economy of life as creation that affirms life in abundance for all on the one hand and protects God’s oikos on the other.
God of life, help us embrace the economy of life, turning away from greed and destruction of the creation you have given to us. May we commit ourselves to the mission of affirming life in its fullness to all, including creation. Amen!
Rogate R. Mshana
True Wealth Enterprises for Economic and Social Change (TWESC)