Decrease the surplus population?
There’s a dreadful line from Charles Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. When presented with the need for donations to support those living on the edges of society, Mr. Scrooge responds with this heartless dialogue:
Scrooge asks if the prisons and workhouses are still open for business. When told that they are, he declares that those in dire need should go there instead of begging. The men seeking his financial help respond:
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
The “surplus population.” Few of us would choose such cold, heartless language, but it’s easy to think that way. The surplus population are those who get in the way of whatever it is I have in mind to do. The surplus population are the nameless masses of people which I believe want something from me. The surplus population are all those whose existence puts a burden on me.
But to think of anyone (or group of individuals) as “surplus” is illogical. A surplus means that there are too many of something for the needs at hand. And people cannot be surplus because the God who created each and every person has a unique purpose FOR that person. Only the individual can live out God’s purpose for them. Nobody else can do it.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
There is exactly one person for every purpose in God’s creation. There are no extras lying around. There is no surplus.
When you encounter someone who you’re tempted to think of as a surplus person, remember that they are the ONLY one who can live out God’s purpose for them. And you are the ONLY one who can live out God’s purpose for you. Which, by the way, might include helping the other person discover their purpose.
In the end, Scrooge was not only heartless, he was blind and dumb, because it’s impossible to imagine or think of anyone being surplus in God’s world.
For more details on God’s purpose for you, join us this Sunday at Seneca Creek!