Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stuff Jesus Said

"He will be the truth that will offend them one and all..." ~ Michael Card  

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


As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’  “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:17-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21


Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44


Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Matthew 5:42

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:2-4

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 
 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:41-46

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,

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous12/10/2013

    Dude. Wow! Jesus doesn't leave a whole lot of room for discussion on the topic. does he? As usual, you ROCK! ~ Chris Cooper

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  2. Jesus is indeed the key, because the law of Moses in the Old Testament basically says if Israel obeys the laws given to it then it will prosper in its promised land. But Jesus comes as a poor prophet and Messiah, who says "woe to the rich," and tells his disciples "blessed are you poor." So despite the old covenant, disciples of Jesus should not say that material wealth is a blessing. The blessings of the new covenant are instead things like "giving rather than receiving," and "showing mercy, for then they will receive mercy" (in the end, from God).

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Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!