so i'm a krogers last night getting the weekly foodstuffs, standing in line waiting to check out and reading all the tabloid headlines as i usually do. what catches my eye is not the lastest with brad and angelina but the banner on the lastest issue of TIME MAGAZINE. does this surprise anyone? it's a new spin on the old "name it and claim it" stuff but with more ominous overtones because it has become so mainstream.
money and materialism are seen as signs of god's blessing, not the fruits of the spirit, not loving other people, not serving others, feeding the poor, loving the unloveable, doing justice,etc.
i don't believe that being rich makes one a bad person or even a bad christian. but i don't think this "prosperity gospel" is teaching people how to live like followers of jesus. i believe that god blesses us so that we can bless others. i also know that riches do not always bring happiness and often can cause more pain than pleasure. i also think that many of us in america forget how truly rich we already are just in our regular lives.
compared to 98% of the world, i am very rich. i have money in a jar on my dresser, i have enough change in the compartment in my car to buy a coke and some fries, if not an entire meal at a drive through. i have a savings account, and a retirement account, thanks to the episcopal church, even though i don't really believe in retirement. i own my house ( a small house with one bath and an ancient kitchen) but in a good school district and in a nice neighborhood. so i am very blessed financially.
sadly though, our culture says i should want more. i should want the bigger house, the better clothes, the kitchen remodeled, the next cool new thing that will make me look good, etc, etc, etc.
while today i know what it is like to have much, there was a time when i had very little.
i know what it is like to have your electricity cut off and not have the money to pay the bill. i know the shame and pain of not having the money to pay the rent. it's not fun to feel poor and to experience that "not enough" "we'll never have " or "how will we make it?" feelings. lack of income, lack of money is very scary and very shaming, especially in a wealthy culture such as ours. so i understand the desire to be rich in money and things. but what i really want is to be content with where i am and what i have. i really want to be rich in jesus
sadly, i/we don't get a lot of encouragement in our culture or in our churches to be content with what we have.
we also don't get a lot encouragement to share what we do have with those in need.
we don't hear a lot of pastors saying "why not use that money you were going to spend on a new car, and buy a car for a single mom without transportation?" OR
"why not choose to live in a smaller house and use the money you'll save to help house folks who are homeless or help someone who needs home improvements or help someone pay their rent. "
OR "why not buy an extra box of cereal or jar of peanut butter for the foodbank next time you shop?"
does my god want me to be rich?
yes...rich in his spirit of generousity
rich in love for others
rich in peace, patience, joy
rich in mercy and forgiveness
rich with a heart of thanksgiving for all his gifts and blessings....
rich in an awareness of the needs around me and a compassion to do something in response.
and if you're looking for creative ways to share the wealth and be rich in generosity....
check out livinggenerously.com it's a great website from the folks at 24/7prayer . make sure you read the story "under the wing." it puts a new spark into the beauty of free-range chickens!
i was forever changed on a mission trip to jamica back in high school
when i saw folks who really had nothing materially, but they had a faith in jesus like i'd never imagined!