I have been pondering some questions lately. If the truth be told these questions haunt me a little. I have heard many messages lately on finances and their correct place in our lives. It seems this topic is on the top of everyone's mind considering our current times. One thing that perplexes me is how neglected the words of Jesus are in the pastoral monologues I have heard. The proverbs are well represented, as well as the Pauline writings, yet the master and finisher of our faith has little representation. Sure we will quote the parable of the servants and their talents, for in the end, it is the one who is prospered that gets accolades. Yet, what about when Jesus says "give to anyone to asks"? How about "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one, and despise the other." Jesus is talking directly about money in this one. In fact goes on to say don't bother saying, "what shall we eat, drink or wear, for PAGANS run after these things." Wow does anyone else feel the sting of that one? How about "blessed are the poor"? I know, "blessed are the poor in spirit". Although I am not in Wisconsin,yet when my family gets together, I am there in spirit. Do we truly identify with the poor, are we there in spirit when they are cold in a house when they cannot afford heat? Really, do I even know what "poor in spirit means"?
Then comes the hay maker, the knockout punch.
Rich young ruler: "Lord what do I have to do to get to heaven"
Jesus: "Follow the commandments."
Rich young ruler: "Good for I have done these things since my youth."
Jesus: "Do you want to be perfect? Sell your possesions and give them to the poor, then follow me."
Did you hear it? He went from how you get to heaven to being perfect. Do you want to be perfect, (complete, mature). I am not so sure all the rationalized sermons I have heard all my life about how that was because this guy was in love with his money. The question I ask is not so much about his heart, but mine. It is easy to talk about following Jesus in my palatial air conditioned house, on my cushioned couch. What if Jesus looked upon me and asked that question? Aren't we all in the United States the rich young ruler? Watchman Nee believed the greatest sin of this young man was not so much his walking away as it was his not allowing Jesus to deliver him from his divided heart.
The questions I ask are this:
Was what Jesus said directly applicable to us?
Why in all our monologues and speeches do we ignore these words?
Why do we stress the controversial, much debated topic of the tithe to the local church more than Jesus actual instructions?
Should not our best financial reasoning start with these words and go from there?
I do not understand these things for they are much too big for me, but I do pray this prayer. "Father, I cannot do all these things, but if they are to be done, deliver me from the evil of my riches, and give me the grace to live by the radical faith you propose. I desire to be perfect, but have not the manhood to do so."
6 months ago