Saturday, November 05, 2016

God Knows Your Hearts

I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things, I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.  Philippians 4:12-14

“No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Luke 16:13

Oh Lord, Oh my Lord
The time has come for turning
Oh Lord, take this world Turn it upside down

The lame will walk and the deaf will talk
The time has come for turning
The blind will see and the slave be free
Turn it upside down

The rich man he will wail and moan
The time has come for turning
He'll take the mighty from their thrones
Turn it upside down

Clearly, Jesus continues to try to turn the world-view upside down – and again his focus is on the desire for money.  St. Paul’s talk to the Philippians shows a healthy respect for how the gifts sent were used to sustain his mission.  Paul reminds us to keep everything in perspective because whatever abundance comes, comes through Jesus who empowers Paul’s mission.    

Jesus goes further.  He draws a sharp line between how people use wealth and how they want wealth.  Jesus’ theme is if you are “enslaved” to money, you cannot also serve God.  People who try to walk that line reject what he says.  People who live in humble circumstances also reject it for want of money.  That is why Paul’s note strikes a balance.

What is the role of money in our lives? 

“We read the Gospel as if we had no money,” laments Jesuit theologian John Haughey, “and we spend our money as if we know nothing of the Gospel.” Indeed, the topic of economics is exceedingly difficult to talk about in most First World churches, more taboo than politics or even sex. Yet no aspect of our individual and corporate lives is more determinative of our welfare. And few subjects are more frequently addressed in our scriptures.[i]

This website on Sabbath Economics focuses our thoughts on money and what role it has in our life.  The authors explained that, at its root, Sabbath observance is about gift and limits: the grace of receiving that which the creator gives, and the responsibility not to take too much, nor to mistake the gift for a possession.  The economic implications of this tradition as it is articulated in the Bible is summarized in three axioms by this web author:

  1. the world as created by God is abundant, with enough for everyone -- provided that human communities restrain their appetites and live within limits;
  1. disparities in wealth and power are not “natural” but the result of human sin, and must be mitigated within the community of faith through the regular practice of redistribution:
  1. 3)the prophetic message calls people to practice redistribution and characterizes that call as “good news” to the poor.

Think of who you will spend money this weekend?  How can you make little decisions about your money that will provide to others?

Here are some links to communities working to reconcile Sabbath Economics with the realities of living in the First World.

They are a group of believers committed to re-visioning the relationship between the Word and our world, in order to help animate and build capacity for communities of discipleship and justice. Below you will find an updated list of what is currently available at BCM

Faith and Money Network equips people to transform their relationship with money, to live with integrity and intentionality, and to participate in creating a more equitable world.

Jubilee Economics works to promote practices, ideas, and stories for living economically on Earth, our one-planet home.

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