Recently my wife and I have had an onslought of unexpected financial obligations ranging from our air conditioner breaking down, to unexpected eBay fees, to rasing money for our move overseas, to continued mortgage payments becuase our last offer fell through. My best friend has reminded me several times lately that we serve the God who has a thousand cattle on a thousand hills, or to put into modern day terms, a million dollars in a million banks. So why then do we worry? Also, why do we constantly hear people justify their greed by claiming that there must be rich people to fund God’s Kingdom?
I wonder what most Americans would do with Jesus’ teaching that it is easier for a the camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, if they looked at it from a more global perspective. If you live in America then the odds are that you are one of those rich people. In fact if you have five dollars to your name then you are probably doing better financially than most of the world. Think about that for a second, five dollars. That means if you can buy a latte a Starbucks then you have more expendable wealth than most people have for their net worth.
If that is the case, then that brings me back to my initial question. Why do we worry about money? Is it a lack of faith? Is it because of our greed? Is it because our lives are too complicated and we need to learn to live more simply? I think, for me at least, it is a bit of all three of these. I often doubt God; not that he doesn’t have a thousand cattle on a thousand hills, just if one of those hills or even one of those cattle is in my back yard. I know there are plenty of things that I desire, or at least Satan has led me to believe that I desire, that I have no need of whatsoever, but I often worry about finances because there all of these treasures that I “must have.”
As far as living more simply, it is an idea my wife and I have been discussing a lot lately, both with each other and with good friends of ours. I’m not entirely sure what it will look like, but I truly believe it is what God is calling us to, and it is my understanding that God is probably calling many Christians to. My wife and I both agree that we need to learn to give up a lot of things, live sacrificially, and learn to appreciate the many blessings, both material and otherwise, that we already have. I hope to have the chance to read “TheIrresistible Revolution,” by Shane Claiborne because I hear it provides a lot of insight into this sort of lifestyle. If anyone out there has read it, please let me know what you think.
As far as that goes, I believe we need to live more simply for three reasons. First of all, it should leave fewer obstacles between us and the relationship with God that we desire. Second, it helps our faith when we truly have to look to God for our provision and trust that he is both Jehovah-Jireh and El-Shaddai. Finally, when we live simply it provides more oppurtunity to help others, both with our time and our finances. To paraprhase C.S. Lewis, if you are living at the same standards as people with a similar income then you are not truly living out the call of Christ.
Quickly, the health and wealth gospel preached by Creflow Dollar, Peter Popoff, and plenty of others makes me want to vomit in my mouth. I get particularly pissed off that they try to rationalize their own greed by skewing the sacred texts of the Bible. I mean there is certainly nothing wrong with a person making a great deal of money. My dad has a good friend who told him that one of his goals in life was to make a lot of money so he could give it away. Indeed that is what he has done. He has made many good investments and business deals and in turn been very generous with his wealth while living a simple lifestyle.
I don’t think it is inherently wrong to have nice things either. It is however heresy, as far as I am concerned, to say that God owes us something for our “righteousness,” or that we can manipulate the Creator of the universe, the very one who gave us breath, by saying a certain prayer, giving a certain amount of money, or commiting some other “godly” act. It is interesting to me that this kind of blasphemous nonsense is being preaced primarily in America and other western countries and not in the poorest places on earth. As one preacher said, “this gospel sells in Amercia, but it doesn’t sell in the streets of Calcutta, and if it doesn’t sell the world over, then it isnt the true Gospel.”
So what are you doing with God’s money? More importantly what are you doing with the Gospel of the Risen Christ in your life?