Sunday, March 25, 2007

Crumbs from your table

Just moved past 10,000 visitors! To mark the occasion I have a simple question (following on from what I've been reading about redistribution and from a great comment by Ralf on my last post).

Does God want Christians to be rich?/Is God happy when Christians are rich?


21 comments:

The Edgey said...

That pop star "Bobo" is rich. The question is then: is he a Christian? That will help us answer your questions.

Ivonne said...

J-Mac, first of all congrats for all those visitors..guess this is the sign of a good blog!
Also, I think it takes a lot of confidence to ask a simple, yet profound, question and be opened to the responses, no matter how bonkers, of others!

Coming back to your question, I don't claim I have the 'Answer', but here is what I believe.
I believe that in His incommensurable love and Grace, God loves us regardless of who we are, what we have done, what we have/don't have. He will always provide for His people. Now, what we decide to do with our resources is our personal choice which should be dictated and directed by Kingdom values and Godly causes.. Basic belief,I know,but what good would it be if all Christians vowed to poverty whilst corrupt influent personalities ruled the world and made the rules? We need to be influences and world changers at whatever level we are given room to do so!
...just a thought!

Dave McM said...

Less is more

"what good would it be if all Christians vowed to poverty whilst corrupt influent personalities ruled the world and made the rules?"

Do you not think it might actually do a bit of good?

Did Jesus not come to be 'counter-culture' 'opposite' 'down-side up kingdom' he fought pride with humility.

I dunno, but as I read God's word Jesus came born in a stable, with no real home, no real income, riding on a donkey. I think He maybe did this to set an example.

Blessed are the poor

Ivonne said...

Dave,

I totally appreciate the paradox of Christianity as esemplified in Jesus where the King of kings was born in a stable and the poor are actually the most blessed of all. I often battle with a the option of leaving everything behind and working amongst the poorest, living like them not only for a summer experience, but for good. However, God really challenged me a few years back of maximising the talents and opportunities for the advancing of his kingdom. God wants to reach out to the poor, of course, but the wealthy of this world are equally as needy as the others and if we as Christians are not in the places which have been assigned to us then who would bring the Gospel to the corporate world, the show biz, the education system, the politicians? Think of Wilberforce: debating between an ascetic life of poverty and making a Godly difference in a corrupt society, he took up the challenge to serve God through his secular job. Guess what we need is a change of heart and actions - not jobs! (sorry for the rambling,J-Mac!)

William said...

Q1: Does God want Christians to be rich?
A1: Jesus said: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Q2: Is God happy when Christians are rich?
A2: I suppose that God can be pleased with us, but I'm not sure if our actions make Him "happy". In short, I don't know.

Peace.

Ricky said...

Though I would join in....

Our society today encompasses many affluent christian people who are extremely generous in their giving...We need to be careful here not to pigeonhole such people simply because our perception of them is that they must be rich, and hence they must be storing up treasures here on earth.

Wealth could be a blessing from God to a person so that the person can honour God and distribute their wealth accordingly. It may be that God can see a person who has some financial prowess... perhaps someone who he can trust with wealth.

For me, it's the love of money or wealth that's the issue here, not the wealth itself....

Ricky

Ivonne said...

I agree with Ricky 100% on this one! Well phrased!

J-Mac said...

Thanks for comments. I agree with parts of all of them! I wasn't insinuating anything by asking the question. I'm undecided but I do think it has massive implications.

I don't think the alternative to being rich is a vow of poverty. I think the main problems with the world are EXTREME riches and EXTREME poverty.

Was reading more of Shane Claiborne yesterday. He quotes from Proverbs 30:

'Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.' (vv 7-9).

Thought this was a great slant...

Should a Christian be rich?

I still don't know.

Brian Heasley said...

Does God want Christians to be rich? Great question, I don't know but he wants then to be content Paul says: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

The thing that worries me is Christians striving to be rich, it suggests a lack of contentment, like deep down really they don't trust God.

Now rich happens to Christians and many are generous and content. I wouldn't be living where i am today if it wasn't for some reasonably wealthy christians who helped me get here and sustain me whilst i am here.(2 Corinthians 8: 13 - 15) We are part of this bigger thing were some have more to give to those who have less, living generously is the key. What I don't get is certain streams within the church who associate wealth with blessing to such an extreme that if you are skint you aren't blessed, it appeals to a western materialistic mindset.

Is god happy when christians are rich, yes as much as he is happy with poor christians, god is very happy that we have chosen to walk in relationship with him regardless of our wealth.

I don't think he frowns on rich christians, althouh he is aware of the problems that those with wealth will incur, eyes of needles etc...

I have a book on my shelf which i haven't totally read but there is a nice little quote in it that says "The rich must live more simply that the poor may simply live" Dr Charles Birch. The Book is Rich Christians in an age of hunger, by Ronald. J . Sider

There are a lot of wealthy christians who are main players in the Old testament but it seems to change by the New there is wealth, but Paul peter etc... don't seem to be wealthy.

having experienced both sides in spending times with the very poor and the very rich I can't say i have found one grouping generally happier than the other. however money sustains life and obviously this changes things.

Sorry for the long comment, in all honesty i have more questions than answers, but love the conversation.

great 200th post

J-Mac said...

200! I've only been at this for a year, give it time! Think I'm at 60 or so. Wise words, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wealth is such a relative concept, when you think about it. I would suggest that all of us taking part in this debate are rich! I am 'only' earning a nurse's salary, but according to globalrichlist.com I am in the top 0.98% in the world in regard to income. That is sobering. By virtue of being born in Western Europe we ARE rich, and that puts a huge responsibility on us- individually, corporately as a church and corporately as a nation. God has blessed us with wealth. He has allowed us to be born into this for a purpose. 'From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded'...

Some of us are wiser in how we use this wealth than others. I wish I was a better steward. I know people who have made wise financial decisions throughout their working life, and because of this they can now in their retirement travel freely and be involved in different mission projects, giving freely of their time and professional expertise. I also know people who have chosen to live very simply, and they have been humbling examples to me of lives lived by faith.

The thing is though, that most of the people in the world don't have the luxury of choosing whether to live in affluence or simplicity. This luxury is only awarded to us, the top 5 or 10%.

I think the bottom line for me is that I want to be FREE... free to follow where God calls me to go. I am sincerely afraid that if I become too comfortable and well off I will lose the willingness to do whatever he asks of me.

This doesn't answer your question -just some thoughts... But thanks for asking the question - it has made me think.

Nina

J-Mac said...

Thanks Nina. Every time you leave a comment on someone’s blog it contains great wisdom. I think you should get your own blog up and running, I would definitely visit!

Anonymous said...

Thanks John! Not sure if blogging is for me though, I don't think I would like to expose myself to the whole of cyberspace... But I hope you don't mind me visiting yours now and again and chipping in. :-) By the way I have that book by Ron Sider (Brian's comment), it's years old now but still totally relevant.

Nina

dave wiggins said...

quite honestly, if we are supposed to share our wealth then we shouldn't really be rich. but it's relative, to someone in rural Ugnda i'm minted but in comparison to J-Mac i'm a pauper!

Gav Wez said...

I just thought that I would have a quick look at this question cos J-Mac asked me to and then head to bed but now I cant sleep cos thinking about this so much - good work J-Mac, making people like me actually think - who cares if you have 10000 hits? What does that mean? Much more meaning in asking a superb question like this! Nice one.

Without dwelling on this for hours my initial thoughts are - I think that when we say "rich" we assume that "rich" people are completely sorted which is rubbish as so many "rich" people are still screwed up and still havent found what they are looking for.

If "rich" means "self-sufficient" then I'm pretty sure that God doesnt want us to be this rich as our inbuilt predisposition to sin shows this pride by thinking that we dont need Him to provide. All that we have He has surely provided.

If "rich" means "PROSPER" then I think wholeheartedly that yes, God wants us be rich in this way. My favourite verse - John 16 v 33 from Jesus "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Awesome stuff, life can be aweful sometimes but no matter what hell is breaking out God wants us to prosper in the freedom of what Jesus has done - overcome it all. We look to him to meet our needs. So, He wants the African kid to prosper and be rich in this way and he wants the billionaire to prosper - not in objective measures of how much money is in their hand but in the depths of their heart and to "take heart" because of Jesus.

If you can be bothered, reading Matthew 25 v 14-46 could help answer this question.

First the talents - God has given us ability - this is not ours, His grace has given us these - some people may have be blessed by havin ability to earn millions and just like the guy given 5 talents, he used what he was given, earned 5 more and the "Master" was delighted. So I think God is happy when he has blessed someone to earn money and that person does!

HOWEVER - the SHEEP and the GOATS (a part of the Word God really challenges me on often) - basically if we dont use our "riches" to help the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick prisoner then we "will go away to eternal punishment."

What a challenge? The Word sometimes just cuts you to the bone sometimes - you cant argue with it. I have no doubt God gives talents so that some can be "rich" i.e have lots of money, but if their heart is not in line with the sheep then these "rich" will not inherit the true riches of eternal life with Jesus. Its about loving others.

This world bombards us with the mindset of needing to have security in our money, jobs and homes. I am guilty of adopting this mindset.

However, I do know that in an instant it could be lost and at that point John 16 v 33 will still ring true and I can take heart, not because of anything I can do but because Jesus has overcome the world.

Thanks J-Mac for making me think. Hope I can get some sleep now.

Love ya mate

Anonymous said...

Think of Jesus - Where was his home? Did He have one? I dont think so.. He travelled about, never stayin in the same place. We arent told of any times He was dressed better than others, or always had more than everyone else - if anything He had the least as He give it away..

Does God want Christians to be rich with money? Depends how they spend it and how it makes them feel.. People can depend on money and use it when they're feeling down. I dont think God wants this - we should turn to Him in stages like this. Does God want us to be poor? I doubt it as this would cause unhappiness and difficulties in life for us.

However, does this mean 'Does GOd want us to be rich in Him or rich in His love?' It could do - and if this is the case the answer is most definately yes! Rich doesnt always mean money..

John Martin said...

This is a question that really plagues me and i have found reading the comments left by ya'll really helpful and inspiring in some cases.

In my mind there is not doubt that God wants us to be rich in Love for him and for others- that is a given. There is also no doubt that God wants to provide for our needs. but what if when we recieved those good gifts we gave them away? What would the world look like?

I have no clue but i would really love to find out. The one thing that is preventing me is fear of suffering. This my show lack of faith on my part but i feel this fear is a result of the culture that we live in. "you must have this" is says, or "go to school, do exams, go to uni, get a job, get a significant other, work hard, die" (-kind of a bleak out look sorry).
Some one once told me they stopped watching TV for a year and as a result they felt less afraid..."but what about being in the world and not of it", i hear you say.....

"should Christians be rich" I gues this question is ultimatly about how much do we know Jesus- not facts and figures, but how much do we actually know him.

This easter i'm gonna try and get to know him more for the risen saviour that he is...who knows where it will lead

Mel Reynolds said...

John, I see you have updated your blog roll. And I see that I am not yet in it. how many times do I have to watch rockstar supernova with you to gain your friendship and blog roll status?...?

Dave Mull said...

Bro, i know this dicussion sort of moved on but was reading Amos today and after chatting to you was compelled to write train of thoughts...

--- it seems that in the Old Testament, 'prosperity' etc were seen as good and blessing from God. At the same time however, the prophets (often with nothing) spoke out with God's heart against rich oppressors who were acting injustly. It wasn't a speaking out against 'richness' per se, just oppression & injustice usually by the rich.

--- Then in New Testament Jesus comes with something more radical. So much of what Jesus says is "you have heard this (in the OT) but i now say this (as a New Testament)":

"How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."
"Do not store up riches on the earth"
"No-one can serve two masters -God & money"

I find it hard to argue away these words of Jesus.
Is 'richness' OK? Maybe some are called to earn in order to bless others but then they would not be rich because they have given away.

Again when reading Amos was struck how he spoke at a time of prosperity in Israel & Judah. In a similar age of today surely we need that prophetic voice to be heard. It usually isn't liked though cause it ruins comfortableness. I think we have made it far too easy for ourselves in our western christian bubbles.

I still question 'how' tho?
(can we begin to ask 'practical' questions on how to live some ideas from this discussion out?)

Keep living & speaking it out bro!
(sorry so long!)

D

Andy said...

I think that most Christians live under a guilt about money that I just do not get.

Being prosperous in the biblical sense is not a selfish thing. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. If having a lack is so "spiritual" and "holy" why do we send millions of pounds to the 3rd world every year?? Poverty is described as a curse in the bible.....

Lets get real - Christian people need to make money and make lots of it! Why? so that they can lead by example and use what God had created (Deut 8 vs 18!!) to make a difference to those who do not have.

How the heck can we be a blessing to other people (as Tear Fund once said "Man does not live by bread alone - but neither can he eat prayer...") if our hands are empty??

Lets not be afraid of increase and multiplication in our lives - we want to see it in "faith, love, peace " etc etc but somehow we start to feel guilty when applied to our finances? Why is that?

Reading a previous post of Brians there were a number of needs that he wanted to see met - they will need finance and God will not send him a money tree - he will use Gods people and the money they have been entrusted with to make that happen!! Think of the parables about the talents....

I am a reasonably successful person who loves Jesus. I want to make more money and I am not ashamed about it. It is not my lord - Jesus is. I want to be a producer of wealth so that Gods people and work are blessed.

Do not be afraid of money or have a pseudo- spiritual socialistic view of it. Embrace wealth creation, be part of it, learn to be a wise steward(is that the heart of the issue??)and make a difference!!

I could go on......

Andy said...

I think that most Christians live under a guilt about money that I just do not get.

Being prosperous in the biblical sense is not a selfish thing. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. If having a lack is so "spiritual" and "holy" why do we send millions of pounds to the 3rd world every year?? Poverty is described as a curse in the bible.....

Lets get real - Christian people need to make money and make lots of it! Why? so that they can lead by example and use what God had created (Deut 8 vs 18!!) to make a difference to those who do not have.

How the heck can we be a blessing to other people (as Tear Fund once said "Man does not live by bread alone - but neither can he eat prayer...") if our hands are empty??

Lets not be afraid of increase and multiplication in our lives - we want to see it in "faith, love, peace " etc etc but somehow we start to feel guilty when applied to our finances? Why is that?

Reading a previous post of Brians there were a number of needs that he wanted to see met - they will need finance and God will not send him a money tree - he will use Gods people and the money they have been entrusted with to make that happen!! Think of the parables about the talents....

I am a reasonably successful person who loves Jesus. I want to make more money and I am not ashamed about it. It is not my lord - Jesus is. I want to be a producer of wealth so that Gods people and work are blessed.

Do not be afraid of money or have a pseudo- spiritual socialistic view of it. Embrace wealth creation, be part of it, learn to be a wise steward(is that the heart of the issue??)and make a difference!!

I could go on......