God and Money
Jesus also said:
Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. (Luke 12:15)
To explain this truth, Jesus told the parable of the rich man who produced another good crop who said to himself:
I have no place to store my crops, I'll have to build bigger barns. I now have plenty of good things laid up for many years; I'll take life easy.
This was God's response: You fool. This night your life is demanded of you.
This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.
Then Jesus said:
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:32-34)
It is often said by evangelical Christians that Jesus talked more about money than about any other subject. Their implication is always the same: Since Jesus talked about it, it is good. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus' teaching about money was that it is a false god. Jesus often told people to give all their money away. Jesus often used money in parables like He used other things they were familiar with. To say that Jesus was encouraging wealth accumulation in the parables in which He used money is like saying that Jesus encouraged ruthless rulers to kill people who disagreed with them (Luke 19:12-27). It is categorically not true that Jesus encouraged wealth generation and/or accumulation in any way.
It was about 1984 or 1985 when I began to realize the corrosive power that Money possessed; and that I, while a believer, had subjected myself to Money's power and dominion. I finally asked God not to make me wealthy, because I didn't want to be tempted by something that could easily cause me great misery and eat my flesh like fire. About the same time I came to realize that Jesus had great compassion for the poor. I shall talk more about that in my other seminar.
About the same time, I also came to realize that the central purpose of my life on earth was to have Jesus' likeness and image fully recreated in me.
And we, who with unveiled faces all behold, contemplate and reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Cor 3:18)
And we know that to the ones loving God He works together all things for the good of those who have been called according to this purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28-29)
Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considering others better than yourselves, looking not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, although continuing to be in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but He voluntarily emptied Himself of His glory as God, taking the very nature of a servant, becoming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death--even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:2-11)
But whatever was to my profit I now consider a worthless loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. (Phil 3:7-12, 20-21)
To become like Jesus is to have access to all the true wealth of the universe.
Paul warned Christians about our interpreting the Bible through the values and lens of our culture:
Do not be conformed to your culture or age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may determine what God's will is. (Rom 12:2)
American evangelical Christians have become conformed to our culture's view of money and possessions. This is called syncretism. Remember Monday night when Ray Aldred, the native North American, stated that the Western church has tried to westernize native Americans because of their concern about syncretism creeping into the church from Indian culture. Remember when he said that the Western church is blind to the syncretism of the modernity and materialism of American culture that permeates the evangelical church. That is exactly what we are talking about today. We have reinterpreted obvious biblical teaching so that it is virtually indistinguishable from our culture's mindset. This is perhaps best demonstrated by hearing what the early church leaders taught about wealth, possessions, property and poverty.
Continued on next page
More by Perry Bigelow
- A Developer's Perspective on Healthy Communities
- The Builder-Developer as a Steward of God's Resources
- Builder of the Year Acceptance Speech
- Building and Development Philosophy: Cultural and Environmental Sustainability
- 13th Annual Affordable Comfort Conference
- 1st Annual National Green Building Conference
- Bibliography - Neighborhood Planning, Community & Ecology
- The Spirituality of Sustainability
- Stewardship of Creation
- God and Money
- Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger
- Excerpts from "Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community"
- Devotional - Listening to God Daily
- Bibliography for "God and Money" and "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger"