In Matthew’s Gospel we hear that one cannot serve both God and money. In Thessalonians, final appeals are made to test everything and hold on to what is good, and right, and peaceful, standing against that which does not build of what the leaders of the church have set. In Leviticus, many of the details of the Ten Commandments are fleshed out, speaking about Sabbath keeping, sacrifices, harvesting rules, not defrauding your neighbor, rendering unjust judgments, etc.
In each of these passages, God’s word seems to move outward, from self to other – a love of neighbor. One is not to store up treasures on earth, but to store up treasures in heaven. It becomes clear that faith that is not backed up with works means there was no faith to begin with. This is more than just intentional goodwill or tithing for the sake of the poor. One’s whole being must be wrapped up in “outward giving” of the heart.
I have a number of minister friends who are Democrats. I actually am about to go meet with a few of them at our Wednesday morning coffee group. Many of them are frustrated with the direction of this Presidential cycle – heck, many of us are frustrated by all of our government officials. I understand why. Money has hijacked the best interest of many of us. When self-interest groups who have money stick their nose into things it gets even more dicey. Selfishness is almost inherent in the system. Of course people are going to watch out for themselves! Who else will?
What to do? How do we reclaim what I call the “outward giving of the heart” that Paul, Matthew, and the Torah speak of? I wish I had the answers. What I do know is that the community of the faithful is called to outward living, which is a daily struggle for churches. It is only natural to want to hold on to what is ours.
I picture a farmer with a bucket of seed. In order to plant his field, he keeps the seed and plants each seed in the ground. It doesn’t make sense to run around wildly throwing seed on your neighbor’s land, or to simply give the bucket away to someone else. But that is exactly what we are called to do as an outward-living community.
I recently said in a Bible Study that I envision heaven and hell to be identical places – where there is a great feast and everyone has 4 foot utensils attached to their arms. In heaven everyone feeds one another. In hell everyone starves.
God and money. What to do?