The Thing About Money (& Jesus)

Money has become a super hot topic in my circles recently. I’ve wanted to write about it for a while now, but my indirect Persian upbringing makes me get all squirmy… Money is a tough topic to bring to the table.

And because I prefer bullet points and lists (& have a huge exam to study for), I’ll keep things short & sweet… and in list format of course 🙂

  • Money has an incredible power over us.
    It affects the way we think, the way we view things, the way we view people.  It changes our emotions, it impacts the social circles we’re a part of… Without calling money good or bad, there is no denying that it is certainly powerful.
  • We don’t realize how much excess we live in.
    I’m so so guilty of this: calling things “necessary” when they’re just not. I remember a few years ago, I walked past a homeless man who had a little boy with him… I remember my thought process went something like this: “Do I have any cash to give them? Hmmm… I think I have a 20 dollar bill in my purse. But I’m getting a mani/pedi tomorrow with a friend and I need it. Oh man, what do I do? Eek… oh well, already walked past them”. And that’s it. I’m not saying to give out money to all the people you see on the street… I’m just saying to observe what’s going on internally. What I didn’t realize in that moment is that I chose paint on my toes… instead of food (a necessity) for that father and son. Consumerism tricks us. It tricks us into believing that material luxuries are necessities.
  • Christians have “selective hearing” when reading about money in the bible.
    I’ve seen this in bible studies before: people gliding over the verses about money… as if they’re not there. Hm… So let’s address everything surrounding the money part, but not the actual part where Jesus says: “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 19:24). I’m not saying it’s bad to have money… I’m just saying we are following a faith that was birthed from a savior who literally had no place to rest his head at night. A man who walked barefoot, had nothing and instructed us to leave everything and follow him.
  • Sometimes, we don’t think these verses apply to us.
    A lot of rich people don’t think they’re rich… well here’s something I’ve learned: If we’re not rich, then no one is. I didn’t think I was rich… and then I learned how little a majority of the world has… how 25,000 people die PER DAY for lack of food. I learned that if you make more than $30,000/year, you’re in the top 4% of wealth in the world. More than $50,000/year? Top 1%.
  • Children are the biggest temptation for hoarding wealth.
    Nothing has caused me to want to hoard my money more than having a kid. I want him to live in a nice house and have the best education, classes, books, toys, sports, you name it… I used to walk to the grocery store near my house… a route that requires passing by a couple homeless people. I used to converse with them, sometimes bring them food. But now that I have Josh? I drive. I always drive. And I see this pattern of “protecting” him play out in so many areas surrounding money. It concerns me.

IMG_6602
My child enjoying the luxuries of Disneyland (does he know what’s happening? No. Did I have to bring him out of “necessity”? Apparently.)

I certainly don’t know much. But I’ve learned enough over the past year that’s caused me to question the way I spend my money… the way the American church spends it’s money. I think it’s time we start taking a good hard look at the way we view money and the way we choose to spend it. And stop pretending like we’ve earned things, when the majority of us are born into privilege (whether it’s financial privilege, racial privilege or any other form of it).

I don’t have much else to say. I’ll leave you with a passage I read in Jen Hatmaker’s book “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess“… there’s so much more to this passage, but I didn’t want to write out her whole novel:

“What would the early church think if they walked into some of our buildings today, looked through our church Web sites, talked to an average attender? Would they be so confused? Would they wonder why we all had empty bedrooms and uneaten food in our trash cans? Would they regard our hoarded wealth with shock? Would they observe orphan statistics with disbelief since Christians outnumber orphans 7 to 1? Would they be stunned most of us don’t feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, care for the sick or protect the widow? Would they see the spending on church buildings and ourselves as extravagantly wasteful while twenty-five thousand people die every day from starvation?
…I think the early church would cover their heads with ashes and grieve over the dilution of Jesus’ beautiful church vision. We’ve taken His Plan A for mercy to an injured lost planet and neutered it to clever sermon series and Stitch-and-Chat in the Fellowship Hall, serving the saved. If the modern church held to its biblical definition, we would become the answer to all that ails society… When the fast, the death, the sacrifice of the gospel is omitted from the Christian life, then it isn’t Christian at all.”

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