Community, Social Justice, Giving and EvangelismLast time in part 11, I talked about the community of "George Muller". In this the final installment of this series I'm talking about God's Economy.
God’s Economy Is An Economy Of EnoughGod has a different way of looking at prosperity. Far from requiring us to live a life of poverty, far from living a life of riches, God calls us to live a life of enough.
The most powerful expression of this is in the Lords prayer. "Forgive us our Debits as we forgive our debtors" (Matt 6:12).
Yes I know that immediately, many will say that it should say forgive us our "sins" and there is no doubt in my mind that the "sin" was intended to be a very significant part of the the meaning of the verse. However the Greek word means "debits". Though it is often sadly missed, forgiveness of debit is part of the intent of this verse. The proof of this is the verse that precedes it: "Give us this day our daily bread".
It is clear that Gods economics comes into the Lords Prayer. The economics of enough. What higher ranking could be given to a theology that the Lords prayer.
This even shocked the disciples because they, like everyone else believed that the rich were were rich because they had God blessing and were guaranteed a place in heaven (Matt.19:23-26)
Some will have more than others some will have less but it seems to me that we are called together to share what we have. I have been with people who have less than me but they have given to me to help me overcome financial difficulty. I have been on the receiving end of people with more than me helping me go though Bible College.
I had a discussion with one guy when I was in Bible college who was trying to insist that a Christian should not be rich. Apart from the difficulty of defining what is "rich", I pointed out that he would not be able to be in bible college if it weren't for the "rich" people sponsoring him; something he had never thought of.
For a Christian, it should be recognition that God gives his approval and blessing based on the principal of "enough" and that each of us have a bounty in our daily bread. But those riches may include spiritual riches and not necessarily material riches. That is everything for a Christian is within the context of that which we need each day.
Some will be materially rich and they with have a job to do with those riches; such as sponsor people in bible college or missions or charity. For other Christians, those riches will take other forms, according to the job God has called them to do. But none are more or less rich than each other, we all have enough.
As Christians we have a awesome responsibility to make sure we use all that God has given us that is in excess of our own needs, to give that excess away to that which it is intended to go and be used. If we have more than enough and we don't give it away as God directs then our eyes are diverted from the job God has for us and indeed God himself. Then we have too much and we are not truly rich.
This is what Jesus was getting at when he said "...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". (Matt.19:23-26). It is our responsibility to examine carefully what we really need remembering that as a community things like this will come under scrutiny (Acts.5)
In the same story as the widows mite (Mk.12:38-40), where this all started, the Pharisees gave "out of their excess". They didn't give their excess, they gave part of it. They still had plenty of excess left over. That's the real point of the widow and her mites. Giving must be a sacrifice, not a burden but it must mean something. More than that it must be significant
By the time many preachers on this subject are finished they would have you convinced that sacrifice means a burden. They love to skip the part about joyful giving (2 Cor.9:7) by trying to tell you that you should carry this burden of sacrifice and be happy about it. It's just not true. Joy is not a burden. No one should be coerced into giving (Acts.5).
True Christian community is not about:
- Bringing everybody to the same financial status, either up or down.
- All living under the same roof.
- Living a life of poverty.
No! True Christian community will express itself in many different ways, each legitimate. True Christian community is about sharing; about giving generously to each other. True community is about making sure that each of us has enough. Not the same as each other but enough.
So how about it then:
”What if the church were so well off that everybody in the congregation had no need?”
Would it not be a phenomenal witness to the world about us, if a congregation made sure that each and every person in that congregation, always had enough for the job that God had set out for them.
Of course this means that a congregation would have to work with each other closely enough to make sure each and every person was doing the job God had called them to do. Something that we a commanded to do as part of our communion celebration (1 Cor.12:21-26)
This would not be easy because such an approach would require us to be considering others all the time. Yet another Christian principal is it not (Heb.10:24)?
As hard as all that might be, is it not worth the challenge?
Would it not be better for Christian to seek to be better off and to help others to be better off than to seek poverty?
There would be an added bonus to this: we would never have to listen to preaching twisting the widows mite story again, because there would be enough and a call for anything else would just be shear greed.