15 October 2008

Let Me Get This Straight.... Christians Should Be Poor?

Today's Collegian opinion article: Desire for success should not go against faith

My hurried response before class:

I think the writer missed the point behind Pope Benedict's message (which can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7654878.stm). The Pope was addressing the recent economical situation, so for him to say that those who seek "success, career or money are building on sand" is a very logical statement considering money is disappearing when banks collapse. The article continued saying, "When he opened the Synod on Sunday, the Pope attacked modern culture, saying that 'nations once rich in faith and vocations are losing their own identity under the harmful and destructive influence of a certain modern culture.'"

Yes, instead of focusing on wealth, we should be focusing on God. Matthew 6:33 says to "Seek first the kingdom of God," not "seek money and wealth and when you remember to, or even just on Sundays, seek God." The Christian faith isn't asking believers to abandon work. God isn't against working to pay the bills and put food on the table. Where do you get the idea that faith is supposed to let you do nothing all day and still be successful? Before Adam even sinned, God put him to work taking care of the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).

Yes, Luke 16:13 says that "you cannot serve both God and Money." It doesn't mean that if you love God, you cannot possess money. Lots of people who love and serve Jesus have money. But they are not serving money, they are serving God. Wealth can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether it is used as a means to exercise power, a tool of self-indulgence or a resource to serve others. Wealth's danger is that it can turn our focus toward our own enjoyment. Money is a tool. It is an excellent resource when put to the right use. It can help to build many things of use to others. But to possess money is also to hold a sacred stewardship. Our resources are not to be privately held and consumed but are to be used as a means of generosity, as a way of showing care for our neighbor.

I don't see where you get the idea that the Pope thinks if you wear nice clothes or drive a nice car that you love money more than God. Whether you love money more than God is something you need to decide for yourself by looking at how you approach each one. Where is your focus? What drives you to get up in the morning? To say, "If I truly loved God, I wouldn't be trying to live the American dream" is simply not true. In John 14:15, Jesus says, "If love love me, keep my commands."

The money we have is not our own. Sure, it's easy to start thinking it is, but really, it belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). And yes, we have to pay the bills, but if you get hit by a car walking to class and you die, you don't get to take your money with you. Why do they pass around the collection plate at church? Because it's an opportunity to give back to the church, to advance the church. The idea of 10% comes from the Old Testament. It was a law then that everyone give 10% of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle/Temple. No where in the New Testament is an amount assigned to how much Christians should give except "in keeping with his income" (1 Corinthians 16:2). Each and every Christian should diligently pray about what God wants him or her to give. Giving to the church shouldn't feel like paying taxes because God likes a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). And the money isn't (or shouldn't) be used just to make the church look pretty so that it will be viewed well by the community. The "church" is just a building, and the money should be used by the Church (the people) to meet needs and spread the Truth about Christ.

God does not say "If you love me, stop working, stop earning an income." God simply does not want us to lose our focus from Him (our Creator who owns everything He created anyway) and turn our focus to money. If our purpose for living was to grow up, get a job, and earn money to continue living until we die, oh what a depressing (and pointless) life we would have! We were called for something so much greater. Christ didn't die on the cross for us to be free from the penalty of sin so we could earn money and buy nice things. He died and rose so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.

There's so much more on the topic of money and the believer if you just dig deeper. He's a site that might be good to look at: http://pjvs.wordpress.com/2006/12/10/rich-christians-an-oxymoron/

For a topic that seems so black and white, it's amazing how clear it is when we abandon misconceptions and turn to God's Word to find the Truth.

Any thoughts on why so many people seem to hold misconceptions about how God wants us to handle our money? Any words of wisdom or more Scriptural support? Let's hear it! Post a comment.


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