There has been a lot of chatter among USAmerican Christians as of late about money - and some of it has been quite contentious. Are believers blessed with wealth as a result of their faithfulness as those who preach the Prosperity Gospel believe? If we are blessed, are we called by Christ to share with the under-resourced around us as Pope Francis insists? Do REAL Christians hoard their money for a rainy day or share it with those on whom it rains every day? Shouldn't the poor among us be pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, joining gyms, sleeping more and eating healthier food so they can have better lives? I fail to understand how most of these issues are even debatable, because I find scripture to be pretty clear. We may not want to hear it, and certain financial gurus may not want us to know it, but all we have belongs to God, and we need to share it with those in need. It starts in the Old Testament (all scriptures in this post are NIV):
If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Deuteronomy 15:7-8
Our churches still take Old Testament tithing very seriously, but I seldom hear sermons reminding us of the OT directives to save money to make a special offering to neighbors in need every 3 years (Deuteronomy 26) or to have a Year of Sabbath and a Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25). It's kind of like how many are quick to quote OT scripture that backs up a particular point of view, but conveniently ignore the laws against eating lobster and barbeque. Jesus came to bring a new covenant which would fulfill the law. He was very clear on the issue of wealth accumulation. We cannot serve two masters, and material wealth often becomes an idol. I have written before that everything Jesus said & did is more important than anything ANYONE has ever had to say about what he said and did- and I believe that with all my heart. It's all about Jesus. So what did he have to say on the subjects of money and taking care of our neighbors? Here's some stuff Jesus said...
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24
In Genesis, Cain asked God the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Read the words of Jesus again. Read Acts 2: 44-45, where we are told that in the 1st century church, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." Revisit the Old Testament laws. God has an answer for Cain, and for the rest of us as well. Scripture is both implicit and explicit that we are indeed to love and care for our sisters, brothers, neighbors and friends. Uncle Ben from the original Spiderman movie said it best- "With great power comes great responsibility." Oh wait..that was stuff Jesus said too! "To whom much is given, much is asked." We are blessed to be blessings. God has given us His love and everything else we have so that we might change the world for others. It's just not that complicated.
So I will let the theologians and the preachers debate the issue all they like. But for me, the One who calls me to follow him has already said all that I need to hear. And that's all I've got to say about that...
Because of Jesus,