Yesterday I preached on everyone's favorite topic — money. Here's my random smattering of observations regarding that super-fun topic to preach about:
- The generosity of God in Jesus Christ means responsibility and generosity in this life. God has been crazy generous to his people. He, the wealthiest conceivable being, took responsibility for a problem that was not his own (our sin) and generously dealt with it at the highest imaginable cost, the death of His Son. When we receive that grace, we should do likewise.
- Hyper-Capitalism isn't the Kingdom Making profits in business is good, not bad. I mean, Jesus worked as a for-profit small business owner for the great majority of his adult life. But hyper-capitalism is the belief that profit is the good — transforming a tool into an idol. This false view of God's stuff plays on the emotion of fear and love — fear of lacking money, and a love of money itself. It creates selfish, money hungry people, not disciples.
- Marxio-Communo-Socialism isn't the Kingdom, Either When I made point 2 yesterday, everyone smiled. When I made this point, everyone scowled. That's because I'm in the Northeast. If I preached the same sermon in Alabama, it would have been just the reverse. But again, Jesus was a small-business owner. He wasn't a socialist (or a communist, or a Marxist), because he very obviously believed in the private ownership of property and the means of production. This view doesn't play on our love of money or fear of lack. Rather, it plays on our self-pity and jealousy.
- A Right View of Money Starts with a Right View of God We can't build an autonomous view of money. If we're going to think, feel, and act rightly with God's stuff, then we should probably think, feel, and act the way God does about stuff. If you think God is a celestial miser, you'll treat money wrong. If you think God is to be manipulated by prayer and obedience into giving you what he wouldn't otherwise, you'll treat money wrong. We must see that God is crazy generous. That's the starting point. And, his generosity is on display for all to see in the giving of Jesus for the sins of the world.
- Receiving God's Generous Grace Means We Must Be Responsible When we get something from God, we must note three things: (1) It's not ours, it's God's. (2) We must be faithful with it — using the best wisdom from the Scriptures and from the pros to manage it well. And, (3) we must use our faith. We should invest, save, and spend in faith — asking and trusting God to provide blessing and protection over our investment.
- Receiving God's Generous Grace Means We Must Be Generous We can't be selfish grace recipients. Receiving grace entails generosity. This one's pretty simple, really. If we're not responsible with God's stuff, we won't have any money with which to be generous. But if we are, we will. And when we are responsible and see a profit, we must be generous.
- Preaching on Money is Not Fun, It's Necessary Man, I got some mean looks from folk when I criticized their politics. The idolization of the voting booth appears to be alive and well in my church. I intend to offend into the light and kill it with the truth, because the belief that we can vote the Kingdom of God in from the hyper-capitalist or the socialist is just plain foolish. I'm not called to console Republicans or make Democrats. I'm called to make disciples, and the politics of the Kingdom would scandalize both parties and their respective economic visions at different levels.
- I love Lists Especially numbered lists. Mmm. Lists...