Tuesday, May 31, 2011
"rich people arent getting into heaven!"
so. lately ive been having an interesting debate (one that i will admit had me in tears at one point) over Christianity and money. namely, prosperity preachers, money and the "justtrynnamakeittoheaven" Christian.
the debate started over a question about prosperity preachers, namely what's so bad about them. well most people who know me also know that i will defend those pp's that i feel really are just trying to spread the Good News of Jesus to the world (and yes, i believe some of them--who i call televised evangelicals lol--really are simply trying to get to tell the world about the love of Christ for every person). so, as usual, there was the usual brigade of Christians that hate them, their message and what they preach, and then there was lil ole me...who still hasnt yet heard an argument from a single Christian to make me ban ALL televised evangelicals from my home. the best argument i got from a Christian was "prosperity preachers advocate that if you arent a billionaire, then it's because you dont have enough faith in Jesus Christ." now i loved that argument, and i agreed, that if someone teaches that, they are indeed wrong. but i have to be honest and say...i have never one time heard any of the te's i like say this. never a single time. and i am still waiting for someone to show me proof of them saying, and insinuating this or anything like this. there are many things i HAVE heard them say, but never that. but i digress.
either way, the debate wound up going into another arena...wealth and Christianity. i did a little research and continued to debate, and was amazed with some of the mindsets Christians today have. i heard everything from, "Jesus was poor, destitute and dirty" to "we should be poor, destitute and dirty as Jesus was" to "we should just be poor people" to "all rich people serve money so can't love God" to the famous "rich people arent getting into heaven!" gotta admit, i was shocked.
seems to me, that for whatever reason, Christians seem to think many things about Christianity and money, none of them good: Jesus wants us poor, destitute and physically suffering, that money is not, and cannot, be a blessing, that anyone who is rich and says they are Christian is a liar, that having financial security equates to being a "billionaire", that being a billionaire is an automatic pass to hell, that we should NOT pray for financial security, and that not worrying about tomorrow somehow translates into not planning for tomorrow.
and ill be the one Christian to stand up and say: i do not believe that Jesus wants us to be poor, that suffering financially is not His will for us, and that money IS a blessing, and that you do not have to be a billionaire to be rich.
and after a week of debating, i still feel this way (although i will admit, i was shell shocked for a while to even see so many Christians praising being poor).
i really think the entire "it's good to be poor" argument from many Christians is just an excuse for their current financial situations. many of us (yes im including myself here--no holier than thou's from this woman) seem to think that it's ok to be in debt, not able to pay our bills or enjoy ANYTHING money can bring us, and to not have a plan for the future (because Jesus will provide). now dont get me wrong, yes Jesus will provide and as Christians, we are NOT to depend on money to meet our needs, put it above our love for God, or allow it to rule us in ANY way. but this does NOT mean having money is a sin, or a bad thing, and nowhere does the Bible say it's ok to be in debt, to owe, that continuing debt is good. as a matter of fact, the Bible teaches that we should NOT be in debt to any person:
It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law
The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives.
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.
we as Christians, should plan for the future, as well as budget our money wisely:
A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it!
Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth.
Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms shall be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
money is a blessing. it was with money that jacob was able to care for his family during the famine. it was with money that paul was able to travel the world spreading the Good News. the people of God were abundantly blessed (and financially blessed) throughout the Bible. all of their needs were met continually. moses, david, abraham, solomon, ruth, boaz, the israelites, esther...the list goes on. these people were hugely blessed by God because of their love and committment towards Him. and only when did they allow their love for their lifestyles and money to overrule their love for God, did they run into trouble.
but this is not saying that money is a bad thing, and the only good Christian is a broke Christian. the Bible tells us that it's better to give than to receive. well, that's where money comes in! how are we, as Christians, going to give when we have nothing to give? my mother used to spend her money on helping her students purchase coats, clothes, shoes and food when they didnt have (and she taught 1st grade so can you imagine)? she didn't tell the children, "i'm going to pray that you get shoes"...she BROUGHT them shoes. now how in the world was she going to get them shoes without money? beg the mall stores for free shoes? Christians can do more good with money than without. i'm not saying Christians can't do good without money. just that we can do more good with it than without. i had a friend recently tell me she had no food to feed her family. did i say, "oh child, i hope you get food to feed those children?" while i fed my family like fat rats? no. i offered her money for her family. she told me i blessed her. i told her i blessed her because Jesus blessed me...with the money to give to her.
dont get me wrong. i am not advocating that with money we dont need Jesus. just the opposite. im advocating that money is because of Jesus, and as we get that blessing called money, it's our jobs to bless others (especially Christians in need) with that money. that's the purpose of money. it's not for us to selfishly hoard, but it's for us to bless our communities and churches with. it's for us to purchase good things to help us enjoy this life while giving God the glory.
someone told me, "wanting a new car or home is idolizing!" so, me wanting a new van to safely transport my family around, have a warranty and the newest safety features, and have transportation that accomodates ALL of my family members (we have a large family and need 7 seats and seat belts) is idolizing? what should i want...to walk around in 4 feet of snow and in 98 degrees of heat with 5 children instead of driving? or, take a lemon with problems and possibly not as safe as a new van over the van just to say i denied myself? should i not ever have a new home because i'm saved? have 5 children sleeping uncomfortably in 1 bedroom with no privacy or room to grow "in Jesus' name"? someone said it perfectly, "you dont get any points for suffering needlessly". will i make it to heaven any more quickly for turning down a new car or home and instead continuing to walk or live in cramped quarters? does Jesus want us to suffer needlessly? when He tells us we will suffer in His name...i think He means we will be persecuted for following and loving Him, not for being poor and broke as all get out.
God tells us the more we give, the more we will receive (i have heard televised evangelicals preach THIS). the more we bless others, the more we will be blessed. this is truth, i am a living testament to this. for 2 years (and counting) we have not had a stable income in our home. so we do not have money. my husband was laid off, as was i, and neither of have been able to find work for a few reasons. but we have NOT lost out on ANYTHING but cable tv. in a time where people are losing everything they've ever had, my family has been well kept. we havent lost anything! to God be the glory...an unemployed family of 7 with NO income at all and we have been saved through the storm! i truly believe it's because we are a giving family. we are not hoarders, we are not selfish. we give freely what we have, time, attention, food, clothes, gifts. we bless others, and in these hard times, we have been blessed. why can't this same rule apply to the money we are given?
i read a book where the author claims that the more money she gives, the more money she gets! she said she can never seem to get rid of her money, and continues to amass more and more. she not only tithes and offers to her church, but she gives offerings to anyone that blesses her with Jesus' love. she said she gives one amount, gets double that back. that she just cannot outgive God...that He's blessing her so much it's borderline ridiculous. she said she keeps her tithing rules faithfully...and God is faithful in His promise to always meet her needs.
the key to her story is...she keeps money in it's appropriate position. and she doesnt let her become her master her or cause her to forget who comes first in her life, Christ Jesus. she gives freely, because she knows God will always keep her needs met. she has no need for money because she has Jesus' protection and Promise in every area of her life, but she also doesnt find anything wrong with living nicely because of the money she has been given, since she has it. she just knows it's only a means to an end while she's on this earth, not the end itself.
now this is what i'm talking about. money should be a blessing, and the more you get, the more you should give...especially to other believers! Jesus blesses us with money, and we should use that money to help meet the needs of others.
Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.
to have the narrow minded view that people who have money aren't saved, or that Christ said rich people won't go to heaven (He didnt say this. He said that it will be difficult for them to make it into heaven, NOT because they had money, but because they tend to serve money and not God) is so old an antiquated i can't even believe people are still teaching it. to paint a picture of Jesus wanting us destitute, hungry, sitting up at night worrying how our needs will be met--is such a blatant misrepresentation of Jesus it's blaspehmous! but when we teach ourselves and others that Jesus wants us "poor", we are saying just this, that the God we serve doesn't want us to enjoy life (who can enjoy life having their most basic needs NOT met??) i couldnt believe it when a well known website i frequent said "we should strive to be [financially] poor like Jesus was". wow. why should we strive to be poor? what are we hoping to accomplish as Christians by being poor, that we absolutely cannot accomplish being financially stable? Jesus was poor for a reason-- to show us that money is not what gets us to heaven, but leaning wholly on Him is. He wasn't poor just for poorness' sake, being poor just to suffer and set example that poor is where it's at. and there are disagreements in the Christian community over how poor Jesus really was. at any rate, ALL of His needs were met, whether or not He had an excess of money He didn't have a place to lay his head, but He slept soundly every night. He didnt have a bank account, but when it was time to pay taxes, Jesus had His coinage! Jesus didnt say "dont have money, it's a sin to have money!" if it was a sin, no one in the Bible wouldve been blessed with it. He just commanded that we use it wisely and remember it's purpose in the grand scheme of things. one of my family members made an excellent observation, "have you ever seen anyone destitute gather souls for Jesus?" and my honest to goodness answer is "no". when i see the poor downtrodden in the streets, people around them tend to be trying to get as far away from them as possible, not squating around listening to them while they preach about Jesus (and many of them do). i am even sure that there have been the occasional nonbeliever walking around thinking, "well if that's what believing in Jesus will get me...i'm better off without Him!" as they either drop a nickel in a cup, or run the other way.
as far as the televised evangelicals go...while many of them do improperly use money, i think it's silly to say they all do. i sense a tinge of jealousy in those Christians who are damning other wealthy Christians. ive heard people say some wealthy Christians dress too nicely to be true Christians, and live lifestyles that are too lavish. it's beyond crazy to think that anyone bringing in a decent amount of money will look like a pauper all the time. even bill gates, who shops at walmart, wears nice clothes to work! lil ole justin beiber has his own tour bus. i suppose he should sell it and walk to his tours, all around the world! if i were to attain a certain level of wealth, i would spend money on nice clothing as well, because there is nothing sinful about dressing in quality garments.
Jesus made the world and everything in it, including money. so it cant be a bad thing. satan didnt make anything but sin, and that includes the sinful use of money. God uses money to elevate some for His purposes, and He keeps money from some for His purposes. not having money has been one of the most difficult, yet one of the most spiritually rewarding times of my life! i am with Jesus all the way and i am growing an understanding and appreciation for money that i've never had before. when it's time for me to reap my harvest and sew seeds so others may reap, i pray i will always let Jesus lead the way, and keep me financially conditioned.
i believe as long as our mindsets for money are right--we will have enough to meet our needs. why? because i dont think we are supposed to live with lack, but we must have a healthy mindset for money. if we obtain more money than for just our needs, there is nothing wrong with that, so long as we share the wealth.