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Saturday, January 13, 2007


“Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.” (1 Tim 6:9-10)

Interesting... We don’t hear this message at church very often. My guess would be that the reason is because it goes against everything we’ve learned growing up. It goes against the American Dream! We’ve been taught that if you go to school and work hard, then you can make lots of money and live a very comfortable and pleasurable life. Many Christians even teach this. The “prosperity Gospel” has become quite popular. If you believe in God, then he will bless you with lots of money and many possessions. But I don’t remember Jesus ever saying that. What I do remember him talking about is being choked by the riches and pleasures of life (Luke 8:14), and not being able to serve both God and mammon (Matt 6:24). I remember him often commending the poor while usually rebuking the rich and powerful, and we must not forget the simple lifestyle the Jesus and his disciples modeled for us. Jesus himself had no place to rest his head (Matt 8:22) and he charged his disciples to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick. (Mark 6:9)

But we don’t like to hear that so we find ways to interpret scripture to mean what we want it to mean. For example, when Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven, (Matt 19:24) he must not have meant that literally! Maybe, by “eye of a needle” he was referring to a gateway that would be difficult for a camel to get through. We scramble for some explanation for why Jesus may not have really meant what he said. Or when a passage is undeniably clear, (like the one at the beginning) we just don’t talk about it. Maybe Jesus really was calling us to a life of simplicity. Maybe he really was trying to warn us of the dangers of money. Maybe we just don’t want hear what he has to say.

After writing this post, I read the Friar's e-letter (1/12/07). I thought it was worth quoting part of it:

As you might imagine, financial prosperity often brings both a blessing and a curse. Certain fundamental pillars of society, like family life and faith, are often negatively affected. Like a playground see-saw, wealth lifts one side up, yet brings the other side down very low. We are well aware that the weight of poverty can often bring down the quality of healthcare and education, but it can also raise up an appreciation of family, friends, and faith. The old saying, “the best things in life are free,” is true only for those who regard the value of immaterial possessions. Those who value life only by what can be worn and weighed have become infected by a socio-spiritual disease called “materialism.”

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